After his years as a secondary school student and seminarist, during which he already gave proof of language skills and writing talent, Gezelle became a teacher at the Minor Seminary in Roeselare. There he was a language teacher, amongst other things, and also coached the extensive group of foreign students, especially English. During two school years (1857-1859) he was a poësis class (the last but one year in secondary school) teacher, a position of distinction.
As a teacher Gezelle aimed at a spiritual education based on a good and friendly guidance of every individual student. As their spiritual father he had a close relationship with his students, always keeping contact with them and stimulating virtuousness. Many of his students wrote letters to him and kept on corresponding with him even after their studies.
For Gezelle these were peak years of philology, pedagogical dedication, spiritual guidance and poetical activity. In an idealistic atmosphere he devoted himself to the revaluation of his mother tongue, the Flemish language. In doing so he felt supported by his superiors and a favorable cultural climate resulting from a revival of Western European catholicism. Gezelle concentrated on the study of popular language and started searching for an original, Flemish poetry, which he wanted to realise with a group of young, catholic intellectuals, a school of Flemish poets. He had a major intellectual and spiritual influence on these young, catholic students, and also succeeded in educating them as to their national consciousness. In their turn his students would consider him the standard bearer of the catholic, pro-Flemish student movement during the last quarter of the 19th century.
It was in this school context that, from 1858 onwards, Gezelle wrote his first poems for his students such as Eugène Van Oye, Hendrik Van Doorne, Polydor Demonie, etc.
Gezelle published his albums Kerkhofbloemen, Vlaemsche Dichtoefeningen and the collection Gedichten, gezangen en gebeden, edited in 1862 and standing out because of its daring renewal. He was inspired by the techniques of Biblical poetry, among other things, to create a personal and genuine Flemish poetry, a revolutionary stepping-stone in the evolution of Dutch poetry.