At West Elementary, students focus on a different area of social and emotional skill building during "Pawsitive Panther" time each month. In January, the focus was having a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset.

Candi Hatch's kindergarten class read the book "Not Yet," by Lisa Cox and Lori Hockema. Afterwards, the class engaged in an activity in which they shared their dreams, understanding that while these were things they could not do yet, they could achieve them if they worked hard and kept trying.

“I was trying to learn to tie my shoes and I tried a few times and I couldn’t do it, so I put on my other shoes," said Finn, a kindergarten student. "I’ll try again, and I know I can do it because I’ll never give up!"

First-grade teacher Laura Shepherd's class discussed what a growth mindset and fixed mindset sound like. Students sorted various common sayings based on whether they reflected a growth or a fixed mindset. Shepherd has hung the posters in the classroom to remind students to use growth mindset sayings every day.

“A growth mindset is when you never give up," said Braxton, a second-grade student at West. "If you try and it doesn’t work out, you should always try again. Always try something even if you don’t know how to do it, you can learn how to do it.”

“It’s important to have a growth mindset because it shows that you're not giving up and you can experience things," said Toryn, a second grader. "If you don’t know how to do a flip, try doing it anyway and you might get it someday!”

West Elementary's monthly focus on various social and emotional skills reflects the Knoxville Community School District's goal of being a leader in 21st century learning. The district aims to engage students in authentic learning through meaningful experiences and the teaching of important life skills.

To learn more about the district’s goals, visit

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