New Teacher Advocate — Summer 2014
Change Language:
The Cinnabon Approach To A Successful First Year
Kristina DeWitt


The Cinnabon® company was founded on the premise that “Whatever you’re in the mood for, we believe that Life Needs Frosting®” ( This philosophy describes the world-famous goodies, but even more than that, it’s their very reason to be: to provide the balance you need in life.

You’ve tasted these treats, or at least inhaled appreciatively as you walked past the store in the mall. Your mouth is probably watering as you think about the aroma. As a new teacher in the classroom, it may be time to take a different perspective, a food perspective so to speak, on teaching. If your students were the frosting, the ooey gooey sweetness on top that makes the whole experience delectable, how then would you approach each day?

The Dough

The dough—or rather, the teacher—sets a foundation, the tempo, and the mood. You arrive each day with a spark. You are well prepared with engaging lessons, lots of movement, and creative ideas that keep your students excited. A veteran teacher might attribute this to experience, but you are a first-year teacher. How can you create this balance?

• Know your students. Pay attention to them. Be a detective and listen to what they have to say. Put a simple checklist on a clipboard or an iPad® to easily record student information during the day.

• Observe what works and what does not. Work with intentionality! Write notes to yourself on your lesson plans.

• Be flexible. You are working with children, and they will be children. Create mini-lessons that take 5–10 minutes. Use them for redirection, re-teaching, and elaboration of key concepts. Always be prepared to make changes when things do not go as planned.

• Arrive a little early; leave a little late. Plan your time so you can be in your classroom with 10–15 minutes to spare.

• Reflect on everything you do. Write it down in a journal or create a blog.

• Network with other teachers in your building. Build collaborative partnerships with other teachers and support staff.

The Cinnamon

The cinnamon represents instruction. Every aspect of the instructional day is embedded in curriculum. Know your material. Know how it applies to your state’s standards, common core, or the curriculum framework for the school district. As a new teacher, you make choices based on the students you teach.

Allow yourself enough time to plan and execute every activity, every subject, and every assessment. “Learning has nothing to do with what the teacher covers. Learning has to do with what the student accomplishes” (Wong & Wong, 2009, p. 223). Is your cinnamon spread evenly on the dough? Be a teacher who:

• creates learner-centered activities;

• asks “What do I want my students to learn and accomplish?”

• knows the standards are there to guide you in identifying what the students must master;

• sets objectives for every lesson, using action verbs stating what the student must accomplish;

• understands assessment is a continual process; and

• differentiates to reach all students.

The Frosting

You guessed it—the frosting is the students! The students are the heart of your classroom. You are their guide to learning. By the second month of school, you know a great deal about your students. What keeps the frosting tasty and on top of the roll? Students desire a teacher who:

• knows them and likes them, even if they misbehave;

• listens to everyone;

• enjoys being there;

• is neither a pushover nor too strict;

• knows the subject matter;

• makes learning fun;

• doesn’t embarrass them or allow others to;

• doesn’t give too much homework;

• helps them behave;

• encourages them to learn;

• shows how to respect others; and

• is positive and trustworthy.


The rest of the world may never know how hard you work. They may never know that in your free time you grade papers, cheer for students at dance and soccer, and design lesson plans. But does it really matter what the world knows? Teachers are here for the repeated rewards of what matters most—seeing the students learn. What matters to a teacher is that the Cinnabons are prepared, baked, and frosted—ready for the 21st century world!


Wong, H. K., & Wong, R. T. (2009). The first days of school: How to be an effective teacher (4th ed.). Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong.

Dr. DeWitt is an Assistant Professor of Education at Liberty University. Her research interests are struggling learners, adolescent literacy, and best practices in education. She enjoys Cinnabon rolls and the beach.