Friday, January 29, 2016

Breaking the Ice

I'm very passionate and motivated to research ways to promote positive well-being in myself, my colleagues and students regardless of age, however, I wasn't quite sure where to begin. As I tried to determine where to start I began to realize the preconceived ideas I had about students', and particularly my own well-being. I noted in one of my earlier posts that the well-being of students is often jeopardized due to their lack of time and money. Activities like going to the gym, yoga classes and even getting a pet have been suggested by numerous sources to reduce student stresses but these activities tend to add up in cost and cut into time that we set aside for homework or part-time jobs. But is this really what is holding us back?

I had this idea that as a student I should constantly be doing school work in order to alleviate stress. I assumed that being productive took place in the form of school work and that to reduce the stress of school I shouldn't be doing anything else. I have always considered myself to be good at time management - I get my homework and assignments done well in advance on top of attending classes, working three to five days a week and spending quite a bit of time commuting to school. But as I tried to begin this project I started to question my time management abilities...

I told myself that I would try out stress reducing strategies and report back on my findings. However, when planning out what tasks I wanted to complete in any given day, I found that any stress reduction strategies I wanted to explore were the first thing I decided I didn't have time for. Why was this? What made taking time for myself less of a priority than my school work?

Now I'm not going to argue that money is not a factor in partaking in some stress reduction activities, such as going to the gym. But I believe that if we take the time for ourselves to explore all of the free stress relievers there are out there we can positively contribute to our own well-being... we just need to make this time!

For me, making time means scheduling time specifically for stress relief, this is never something I have done in the past and I've never been the type of person to drop everything and take a break. Every morning I make a to-do list, typically consisting of school assignments or household chores I aim to complete in a given day. I have now begun to add in time to explore stress relieving activities on these lists every day. I have started with just a half hour a day (I find it easier to only get up a half hour early, or take a half hour break from my school work) but I hope to increase this amount of time as I learn to prioritize my own well-being.

Breaking down these preconceived ideas and learning to manage my time to include my personal well-being has certainly been a challenge in getting my Genius Hour research going, but in the time I have designated for hands-on research of stress reduction has been a blast! I have experimented with some yoga and colouring and I'll start to share some of my findings in my next week, stay tuned!

I'll leave you with a quote I came across in my research that I hope inspires you to take some time for yourself and to improve your own well-being...

"It's not selfish to love yourself, 
take care of yourself
and to make your happiness a priority. 
It's necessary."
                               - Mandy Hale  

Friday, January 22, 2016

My Motivation

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I initially began to think about researching stress relief techniques for my own well-being as well as to help other students who may be feeling the same way.  This year has been a whirlwind of school work on top of balancing a part-time job, a long commute and I have pretty much completely abandoned my social life as a result. It was making me feel frustrated, unhappy, unmotivated... and I know I am not experiencing these feelings alone.

When I began to look into the mental health of university students I found a shocking but informative article by Maclean's magazine called The Mental Health Crisis on Campus, though written in 2012, I still think it is very relevant today as mental health problems only continue to rise. It made me even more passionate about finding some outlets to reduce stress and help students feel more happy and balanced in the face of never-ending to-do lists. I am passionate about helping others; the feelings I have described are not only felt by myself, but many of my colleagues - I am motivated to find strategies to help us cope. Therefore, my goal for this project is to research and test strategies for busy students to reduce stress.

I plan on spending my assigned Genius Hour time researching effective stress relievers for students. My intention is to focus on one strategy per week. After having done the research in class, I will then take the strategy and newfound knowledge and experiment with it during the week, whether this be trying different workouts, meditating, or wherever my research may lead me. I will then report my research findings on the blog for others to try and reflect on... we may share the same experiences or we may have differing views on the strategies I will post about, please share whatever experiences you have too - I would love if we could learn from one another!

What I'm really excited about is that I'm sure I can take some of this research into my future practice. Mental health issues are not just prevalent among post-secondary students, but also in many elementary school students as well. I hope that some of my research will lead me to strategies that I can include in my own practice to help students with their own well-being.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Where Do I Start?

Narrowing in on a single topic to focus my Genius Hour time was a difficult task. There is so much I am passionate about and this is such a great, open-ended assignment I was overwhelmed.

I decided to focus in on something that will hopefully help me, my peers and other students. I am currently in my second semester of Teacher's College and have never felt like I have had so little time for myself. I am constantly in group meetings for assignments, making lesson plans, reading books and articles and on top of assignments we now have to worry about creating and updating the perfect teacher resume and getting our applications out to school boards. If I'm going to be 100% honest... it is very overwhelming. 

Since I am given time in school to focus on something I am passionate about, I have decided to take this time to focus on myself in hopes to help the many teacher candidates and students out there who may be feeling the same. It's easy to forget about your own well-being when we are constantly worried about meeting deadlines and submitting our best work. For teachers and teacher candidates, we often worry so much about our students that we forget about ourselves. Mental health issues are on the rise and it's important that we start to take time for ourselves.

In my eight weeks of research I hope to answer the question: How can we, as students or teacher candidates, make ourselves feel less stressed and more balanced? 

This may seem simple and straight forward for most people: exercise, meditate, etc. But as students we have very limited free time. What are some short day-to-day activities we can add into our everyday routine that will help to ease our stress, even just a little bit? I hope that my posts will encourage busy and overwhelmed students like myself to take some time for themselves each and everyday.

I began the project by a simple google search about stress-relieving activities for students and came across a great site called About Health. Though there are some suggestions that may be more timely, there are some great tips like brief breathing exercises and visualization.

This site is only a brief start to the in depth research I hope to engage in during the next eight weeks. I hope you're excited as I am about learning some tips and tricks realistic to reducing student stress.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Don't Be a Copy Cat: Learning About Copyright

I briefly touched upon what exactly Genius Hour is in my last post, but I have yet to pick a topic for what I will be focusing my own Genius Hour on. I'm going to think up something both you and I can benefit from and post about it soon! For those of you who need a refresher on what Genius Hour is, check Chris Kesler's video, it really helped me understand the concept when I was first introduced to it.

However, before I begin this exciting passion project, I had to research a bit about copyright to make sure all of the information I'm posting is actually allowed to be there and that credit is given to the creators. I learned several key ideas about copyright including what it is and how teachers should be obtaining the appropriate permissions when using a variety of resources.

I learned that copyright refers to the laws and regulations that protect the work of a given creator. When I first began to read about obtaining permission to use other professional's work, I began to panic! I thought about all the worksheets I had photocopied in my first teaching block without contacting the author of the resource. I soon was relieved as I read that teachers can use material for the purpose of education under the copyright act. Under the copyright act it is said that it is not an infringement of copyright if the materials are used for the purpose of education (among other things), provided that the dealing is fair. Fair dealing includes a number of guidelines including the length of the excerpts teachers can copy, the purposes for which the material can be used and more.
Ribeiro, L. (2008, June 30). Children at school [Online image]. Retrieved from

I did a majority of my research on copyright using Noel and Snel's (2012) Copyright Matters! document, a very informative resource.After reading about the copyright regulations, I began to think about how important it is for my own students to learn about copyright. This was something I, myself was never taught in school but I think is critical for students to learn. It is especially important students are informed about this in the ever-progessing technological era. Students are constantly posting online whether it be through blogs or social media sites, they need to know what they are allowed to post and where credit is due.

The single most important thing I would teach my students about copyright is to always, always, always cite! It is essential that at any age, students are not just copying and pasting images or passages but always including some form of citation to give the author credit.

San Jose Library. (2008, August 23). Children using the computer [Online image]. Retrieved from


Noel, W. & Snel, J. (2012). Copyright matters! Some key questions and answers for teachers. Canadian Teachers Federation. Retrieved from

Monday, January 11, 2016


Thanks so much for visiting my new Genius Hour blog, I'm so excited to start posting! For those of you who may have never heard about Genius Hour it is a passion project inspired by Google that is making its way quickly into the 21st century classrooms. Genius hour provides students with time to use productively to explore something they are passionate about. As a part of my technology class, I will have the opportunity to participate in Genius Hour each week where I will explore and share with YOU something I am passionate about. I'm really looking forward to not only getting time to focus on what really excites me, but also learning new things about these passions and about myself.

Before I begin I should introduce myself. My name is Lindsay Hatfield and I am a Concurrent Education student at Brock University. I have finished my four years of studying Child and Youth Studies and am currently in my final semester - I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Much of my employment background is with children, focusing on promoting healthy active living. I have worked many years in summer camps, worked for the Recess Project Canada promoting students to be physically active while also addressing issues of bullying and exclusion on the playground. I now spend my spare time coaching in a young children's soccer program. It's evident from these experiences I feel very strongly about young people being active - I have been able to bring this into my teaching practice by incorporating many hands-on and active components to my everyday lessons. That being said, I think it is important to cater to the needs of all learners, so not just providing active hands-on tasks, but also incorporating visual elements, auditory elements, etc.

Incorporating technology into my lessons is something I am working hard to learn more and more about. There are so many different tools and apps out there that I find it hard to keep up. I am looking forward to my class on technology to get to learn and experiment with many technological elements that can be meaningfully used in 21st century classrooms. It's amazing how well students work with technology - you can give them an app and from what I've seen, most students catch on faster than I do! I hope that by the end of this course I will have a better grasp on these tools and appropriate ways I can incorporate them into my own practice.