I still can’t decide if the term is meant as a compliment or an insult: Weekend Warrior.
From pot-bellied beer league softball dudes to ultra ripped CrossFit maniacs, real and faux athletes alike fall under this same ambiguous moniker. Because induction into this fraternity, or sorority as it were, is voluntary, throngs of grown ups flock, each weekend, to whatever arena houses their activity of choice. For hours each weekend, Warriors shed their traditional workaday armor for titanium lacrosse sticks, worn-down cleats, or, in my case, wooden bats.
For the last nine years, I’ve devoted my Sunday mornings, eight months a year, to baseball. If I’m being honest, I’ve devoted most of my life to the game. Growing up in a town where baseball is life, I had little choice in the matter. The thing is for many Weekend Warriors, the real Warriors, our weekends start to bleed into our weeks.
Sunday morning games are supplemented by midweek batting practice or bullpen sessions. Monday afternoons require uploading stats to the league website. Wednesday nights feature an “in or out?” text to the guys on my team in preparation for that week’s game. Friday nights or Saturday afternoons include lineup consideration and construction. Ultimately, my weekends are often parts of five days long.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
However, for far too many teachers, especially the new and novice, being a Weekend Warrior is neither a choice nor a chance to unwind while participating in an activity they love. It’s an expectation, a challenge, a crucible. And it has to stop.
I often joke that I won’t stop playing baseball until an orthopedist or my wife tells me I have to, but playing a child’s game doesn’t pay my bills or provide my health insurance, so walking away would be a bummer, for certain, but it won’t be devastating. For teachers who feel compelled, by nature or by nurture, to work tirelessly over the weekend, the opposite is often true. Or at least that’s their perception.
But there’s a difference between working on the weekend to prepare for next week’s instruction because you have to and because you think you have to. The former is likely a byproduct of inexperience; the latter speaks to an underlying, unspoken expectation put forth by leaders.
There’s a growing turf war between teacher martyrs and self-care advocates. The former will have us believe that because we are in the business of kids, our very essence is an extension of that truth. After all, if we aren’t thinking about our kids during every waking moment then we must be doing it wrong. The latter espouses the notion that if we don’t take care of ourselves then we can’t possibly take care of our kids. After all, if we aren’t allowing ourselves time to decompress and be something other than educators then we must be doing it wrong.
Now imagine being a young teacher trying to figure out with which team she identifies. Too much of one or the other will surely ostracize her. Too little of one or the other will surely ostracize her. It’s simply a fool’s errand.
So it’s up to leaders, the good ones anyway, to provide our teachers with permission, tacit or explicit, to explore their inner Warrior through an outlet that isn’t education.
Try this: on Mondays, make a habit of scrapping the mundane, “How was your weekend?” in favor of a teacher-specific, Warrior question.
–Did you train any clients this weekend? (Personal Trainer Warrior)
-Do anything cool with the kids this weekend? (Mom Warrior)
-Did you hit up the cool, new winery we were talking about? (Wine Warrior)
-I saw there was a car show in Philly. Did you go? (Gearhead Warrior)
Now, your staff starts their new week by being identified as something, anything other than a teacher. In turn, watch as they ask you about your weekend in non-education speak.
We were all something before we entered our field. Some of us waved goodbye to that person; some of us won’t accept the breakup.
It’s the Warrior in us that blends the two.
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