The Power of Changing Roles


“Six Sundays out of seven, Lionel Parrish preached to his own little congregation, but on the seventh Sunday, he had explained to them, he needed to be preached to. Needed some refreshment for his own soul.”

–          Sena Jeter Naslund, Four Spirits

After reading this quote, I had to put the book down for a minute and think. Something about it made me stop. The book is about the U.S. South during the Civil Rights Movement, but this quote made me think of other things.

First, the idea of a leader recognizing the need to be led now and then is like a breath of fresh air. Leaders can get so fixed in their role, and so hooked on the power and recognition it brings, that they lose touch with the people they’re leading and, sometimes, the values they represent. I’m impressed by the humility shown by this preacher, albeit a fictional character, and wish there were more leaders like him in the world.

Second, as a teacher I believe in the effectiveness of switching things up. I strongly believe in student-centered classrooms where students are active seekers of knowledge, not merely passive recipients of it. To teach best, I have to take a back seat sometimes and let students “be the teacher” – leading, asking questions, struggling, and finding answers. In fact, this is a great way to see if they are actually learning anything in my class!

A student-led activity at Instituto Estelar Bilingüe

I also think it’s extremely important that I continue being a student, whether through language courses or spinning classes, to learn from other teachers. I think it’s sad they say that teachers make the worst students. That simply should not be the case.

Finally, I like the part about resting every seventh Sunday…except that I agree with the Biblical principal of resting one day a week. We all need to take a break, recharge our batteries, and chill out in order to be more productive and successful the rest of the time. As a new business owner, my list of things to do is a mile long, and I tend to work myself into the ground, but I am finding that Sundays, my day of rest, are infinitely important for reaching my goals and avoiding burnout.

I have to say that I love quotes like these – the ones that reach me on so many levels and, in doing so, refresh my soul.

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2 responses to “The Power of Changing Roles

  1. Very nice thought! I agree. And, I see from your other posts that you do ask your students to be leaders in their learning experiences. Way to go! 🙂

    • Thanks Connie! Sometimes it’s hard to do it — it requires more creativity and planning to make it work right. But in the end it’s more effective for learning. Thanks for reading!

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