Last week, we posted about the father who created banners to decorate Dominican Sister of Hope Maryann Ronneburger’s school.

Just as that father’s deed was an act of community service, Sister ensured that teachers and staff viewed their jobs as service, as well. Which got us thinking: we see the importance of directing, controlling, and facilitating the classroom, but how often do we teachers see our roles as active service?

According to Sister Maryann, it might help teachers to view their roles that way every day.

When she was the principal of a Catholic grammar school, teachers viewing themselves as active givers of service was more than a suggestion, it was a mandate. Each teacher partook in a ministry course, the theme of which was “we are servant disciples.”

Teachers were encouraged to remember that God was present in the school through the children and through their parents. Practically, it meant that they were constantly reminded that, while the teachers were present to direct, control, and create, they were also at school to serve.

How often do we forget that we can rejoice in our students? How often do we take the time to be really grateful for their presence and to try to be humble before them?

How often do we ask ourselves how we can best serve each of them?

During a training session, a the president of a Jesuit university told a group of college students to treat each person they encounter as the most important person they will meet that day.

How often do we act that way toward our students?

Of course, it’s not possible to do this every minute of every day. But, when we take just a few moments each day to center ourselves in our work, and to intentionally serve the children in front of us, the results can be astounding.

Sister Maryann says that, in her experience, encouraging teachers to remember their roles as servants created a peaceful, giving atmosphere that was conducive to learning.

“Very rarely did you hear a teacher screaming,” she says. “They might get upset, but they stayed calm for the most part because they knew they were servant disciples.”

Today, ask yourself what you’re thankful for at school. Call to mind the beauty of each child. Ask yourself what little things you can do to further serve your students. It might make a big difference in your day, and in your school at large.

This article is the second in our Back to School: Teacher Tricks series. Each Wednesday leading up to Back to School, we’ll post one article containing “Teacher Tricks” from Dominican Sister of Hope Maryann Ronneburgerwho has a thirty-plus-year tenure as a principal and teacher. Check back next week for the latest! For the entire series, click here.