Subscribe Today

August 05, 2011  |   Comments (6)   |   Post a comment

Managing Student Behavior Improves Onboard Safety

Pupil transporters discuss practices they have established toward this effort, such as assigned seating. They also address the importance of creating policies on eating and drinking and transporting backpacks and instruments, as well as ways to reduce noise inside the bus.

by - Also by this author

SHARING TOOLS   | Email Print RSS Page 1 of 2 »

There are many facets to ensuring that students have a safe ride to and from school, and a substantial one is maintaining a safe environment within the bus.

Keeping students’ behavior under control is integral to achieving this environment, and operations have implemented policies, programs and technology to support this effort.

“Surveillance cameras in the bus have been a great behavior management tool once the students realize they are being watched,” says Charlotte Trejbal, transportation supervisor at Freeman School District in Rockford, Wash.

John Nunes, transportation supervisor for Vail (Ariz.) School District, agrees and adds that cameras have been a great asset in terms of increasing safety on his operation’s buses.

“When something happens, we have a video record of it — we can deal with bullying or any accident issues. It makes our operation very transparent,” he says.

Operations enforce assigned seating, reward good behavior
Assigned seating can also encourage good student behavior. In general, officials say they arrange their passengers so that young students sit toward the front of the bus (it is easier for the driver to monitor them), middle school students sit in the middle and high school students sit in the back.

In addition to assigned seating, Trejbal says students receive “Outstanding You” certificates for following all of the bus rules and keeping their voices down during the ride. Students turn in their certificates at a store at their school and receive an item of their choice. Then, their name is entered in a weekly drawing for a prize.

The program is run by the district’s principals and teachers for rewarding good behavior on the bus and in all areas of school.

“We are fortunate that our principals and administrators are very supportive of our efforts to provide safe transportation,” Trejbal says. “We are included in their Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system, so the same message is being received by the students from all the staff.”

Vail School District’s transportation department is in the process of implementing the PBIS system. Nunes says the staff is working with personnel at the University of Arizona to modify the program for use on school buses.

Moreover, the operation enforces assigned seating for their bus riders, and drivers are required to stay on their routes for a minimum of two years. Nunes says this enables the drivers to get to know students, which has helped to keep their behavior under control.

Mike Hayward is transportation director at Andrew (Iowa) Community School, and he regularly drives a bus for the school system. He has also found that maintaining a good relationship with students can improve their bus riding behavior.

Hayward takes an interest in his passengers’ lives. He has also made his bus rules clear and has established consequences if they are not followed.

“We treat our kids with mutual respect and that works well, but you can’t be their friend — you have to be the pack leader,” he explains.

Noise-reduction practices and technology
In conjunction with ensuring that students have proper bus etiquette, keeping them quiet will help the driver concentrate, facilitating a safe ride. Hayward says that playing the radio can help to reduce noise, as the students are inclined to listen to the music rather than talk. Scott Thorner, transportation manager at Star and Strand Transportation in Troy, N.Y., agrees.

“We’re very strict about what we allow to be played, but we give students a choice and I think it helps a lot,” he says.

Sound-dampening ceilings can also decrease noise in a school bus. All of Freeman School District’s newer buses have this feature, and Nunes says his new units do, too.

“On the buses that we acquired last year, we have some sound barriers that we put in the engine compartment so that we don’t get as much engine noise in the bus,” he adds.

(For information on a device that sounds an alarm when students become too loud on the bus, click here.)

PAGE   12Next

Post a Comment

Read more about: behavior management, video surveillance

No radio on my bus! It encourages students to sing and dance. However, I am in favor of letting them listen to their own music with headphones. The advantages of this are obvious.

Scott Ross    |    Aug 04, 2013 06:06 AM

With players incredibly inexpensive these days a child can bring their own headphone radio/player and listen to whatever they want. Background noise on especially the older buses are rather high, forcing conversations beyond the seat the child is sitting in to exceed at least another 10 dBA. The radio simply adds to that background noise. In an older school bus without acoustical ceilings, the kids have to scream at over 90 dBA just to be heard a few seats away. To calm the bus first enforce feet out of the aisle, and students for a variety of reasons including noise control need to sit forward in their seats. Then, the issue of excessive noise can be addressed. Restrict discussions to within the immediate seating area. It is obvious that many do not understand the relationship between feet in the aisle, sitting forward, and a child's mouth. Regardless, enforcing the two mentioned and already basic national safe practices in their order can achieve a much better outcome than the bus radio and all the excuses and other dialog this issue perpetuates. But always the killer is the inability of the adults to accept a shared responsibility to help their bus drivers keep kids safe. The problem is rarely the kids, and nearly as rare is the bus driver the problem. But both make excellent scapegoats. For supporting documentation, see:

jkraemer    |    Dec 09, 2011 07:45 AM

Veteran drivers and bus monitors have dealt with many of the issues you included here for many years. The driver and monitor sets the tone for what goes on or is allowed on board school buses. Children need structure and an organized approach to printed policy allows everyone involved to know and actually examine the printed policies. However, the policy is only as good as those who implement it and enforce it as the need arises. I've learned from all my years that children know if you are sincere. They can read you and can also play you when they learn you don't really mean what you say and evidently do not enforce the rules fairly to ALL students in your care. If you yell at them instead of talking to them then expect the same behavior back and don't be surprised when they stop listening to you. So yes, having training for your driver and monitor staff members will help the employees. If you have no training and just hire people to drive a bus with a load of children then don't expect much in the way of student management results. Some school systems are so large that they cannot mix high school kids with lower grades. The span of ages and size of the students dictate seating arrangements and assigned seats do work best when applied at the beginning of each school year. keep it organized and the kids will be organized. Each bus should already be provided a roster of the names, addresses, contact numbers so assigning seats per grade level usually keeps the respective smaller kids with their own groups on up to the high school levels together. So find out what a school system close to you is doing that is actually working and what training software or program that they promote in the training of their driver and monitor staff members. We usually term this - "best practices." Keep it simple and organized and you'll be surprised at your results. If it is not working then find out why or who is not doing their part in what your set goals are. Good luck.

Dan Luttrell    |    Dec 09, 2011 05:01 AM

I find that playing the radio causes the students to be louder.

Kitty Bush    |    Sep 13, 2011 12:18 PM

Do you want to eliminate bullying on the school bus? Then stop forcing middle and high school children that are wider than 13 inches, to share a seat, with two other children, in a seat that is only 39" For every child that is wider than 13 inches the bus capacity should be reduced by one.

Danny    |    Aug 19, 2011 09:55 AM

Thank you for the information regarding noise reduction and behavior management on the school bus. I like to read articles on bus issues to keep myself aware. It helps all around the "board". I've been driving since 1998 and I've learned a lot working with kids. A mutual respect develops between the kids and myself, for the most part. The cameras help on the bus also. Thanx for letting me share. -Lorraine

Lorraine Snow    |    Aug 10, 2011 11:40 PM

Post a comment

Related Stories

Premium Member

Get bus sales numbers, transportation statistics, bus specifications, industry survey results, bus loading and unloading fatality statistics and more in the School Bus Fleet Research Center. Become a premium member today!
Log in Button Register Button


Get breaking news, industry updates, product announcements and more.