Meet the Mentor - Michelle
Michelle has been a valued member of the Bristol Standard family for many years, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge and experience of early years practice. Michelle trained as a nursery nurse and then went on to study for a degree in early years as well as teacher training. For the past fifteen years Michelle has worked for BAND (Bristol Association for Neighbourhood Daycare Ltd) as a childcare development and support worker, supporting a variety of early years and out of school providers.
The role of Bristol Standard mentor for play settings came up at a stage in Michelle’s career when she was looking for something new and this would complement her role with BAND well ‘I was at the point where I felt ready to take on something different, a new challenge and thought I’d go for it’. Initially, there were two other BAND colleagues involved in mentoring, but more recently Michelle has been the sole mentor for play settings ‘I do really enjoy it’. It is obvious that Michelle finds the experience of supporting and guiding settings a positive one ‘It’s about them reflecting on where they are, improving and moving forward. Encouraging settings to embrace the cycle of reflection and celebrate their strengths’ Michelle explains that the Bristol Standard journey is an ‘endorsement of the settings reflective practice’.
Michelle’s mentor story.
Michelle’s enthusiasm for the Bristol Standard has grown and grown over the years that she has been involved ‘I am passionate about promoting it, because it’s just the ideal way to reflect on your practice. Everyone can do it, find some strengths and move forward.’ Michelle’s role in band balances well with her mentor role as she appreciate the benefits that the Bristol Standard journey can provide settings, she ensures she promotes it to those settings she supports through BAND ‘We promote it through our newsletters, our play workers forums and we’re just directly asking groups if they want to do it.’ Michelle acknowledges that in the past it hasn’t always been easy to get settings on board as they found the prospect too daunting. However, since the introduction of the two new pathways she has seen a bigger take up ‘Now it’s changed to the pathways, it’s become a turning point for it, I’m so pleased it’s happened and will encourage more settings to do it now.’
‘Settings need to ensure that children are at the heart of everything they do and that they are always providing their best for children. There will always be different children and different circumstances and to ensure that you are always providing your best, you have to reflect on what you are doing. This is easier if you have a tool to work with and the Bristol Standard gives you that support and framework for doing it. It’s so comprehensive; you’re not going to miss anything.’
Michelle also organises support meetings for the settings that she mentors and explains how beneficial they are for providing settings with opportunities to share ideas and support each other ‘They’re lovely, really nice meetings. There’s a core of people who come and support each other, there’s some really close friendships that have developed’. The theme of support and friendship is a theme that seems to run throughout the Bristol Standard and Michelle has found her involvement with the Bristol Standard to be such a positive experience ‘I love getting together with the other mentors, I find it so uplifting and so positive, I love that aspect of it and feel like I’ve made some really good friends. They are just the most wonderfully supportive group of people you could ever wish to meet. It makes for such a fantastic working environment. I love it.’