Powering the Global Education Conversation: About EdCircuit

Expanding Learning Beyond the Bell

Jaime Singer spent time with us exploring the state of afterschool offerings, how
parents can evaluate their own school and ways to get involved. Singer is the co-author of the book, Beyond the Bell: A Toolkit for Creating High-Quality Afterschool and Expanded Learning Programs (4th Ed.).

Interviewee
Jaime S. Singer is a senior technical assistance consultant at AIR, where she works on projects for afterschool and expanded learning programs. She designs and implements state and national learning opportunities for the field of afterschool, provides technical assistance to afterschool practitioners on systemic support, and participates in afterschool policy meetings.She is co-author of the fourth edition of the seminal afterschool resource, Beyond the Bell®: A Toolkit for Creating High-Quality Afterschool and Expanded Learning Programs (4thEd.), a resource for afterschool program leaders and staff.

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Research shows that afterschool and expanded learning programs work best when they are high quality and evidence-based. Beyond the Bell® (4th edition) is a suite of professional development services, products, and practical tools designed to help afterschool program leaders and staff members create and sustain high-quality, effective afterschool and expanded learning programs. AIR takes the guesswork out of designing, implementing, evaluating, and improving afterschool and expanded learning programs by staying abreast of the research on what works and turning that information into accessible improvement tools.

Beyond the Bell®: A Toolkit for Creating Effective Afterschool and Expanded Learning Programs contains practical resources, tips, and tools and substantive information about all aspects of program design, management, partnerships, delivery, evaluation, and improvement, along with 96 ready-to-use tools. Each tool is designed so that program leaders and staff members can take action to improve their programs, taking the book off the shelf and bringing to life the concepts covered within. In the chapter on program delivery, for example, staff may read about how to create a warm and welcoming environment in their program. The related tools then enable staff to think deeply about their practice. A youth development checklist, for example, encourages them to examine current practices that foster positive growth in youth, whereas the activity planner supports staff in integrating best practices into their everyday programming. Additional tools provide concrete activity ideas that foster relationships among young people in the program and between staff and youth.

Although the Toolkit may be used as a standalone resource, AIR also offers professional development on how best to use the information and associated tools. These workshops help afterschool and expanded learning programs build capacity to implement quality programming and staff development. The goal of each workshop is to help program leaders and staff implement practices in the Beyond the Bell® Toolkit effectively. As a result, participants come away not only having learned new information and ideas for implementing practices effectively, but also with hands-on experiences using tools and developing actionable strategies and practices that can be implemented immediately in their program.

Through this Beyond the Bell® work, AIR is known as a recognized leader in providing professional development to the afterschool field. AIR staff members and Beyond the Bell® training specialists serve as keynote speakers at major afterschool conferences, statewide, and local trainings throughout the country and present workshops in more than 30 states. To learn more, visit www.beyondthebell.org.

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