Training School Bus Drivers in Positive Behavior Management Improves Discipline
published on November 29, 2019 by Sonia Mastros
School bus drivers have to do several jobs at once while on the road, and one of the most important is maintaining discipline among the passengers onboard. Keeping students quiet and well-behaved is a major safety issue, and can help contribute to safe driving as well. The question is, how?
For many schools, the answer is to look towards positive behavioral management techniques. States such as Kentucky have even begun sponsoring cross-district seminars to help encourage drivers to focus on positive reinforcement, rather than negative, whenever possible.
These are some of the techniques being taught.
Five Ways School Bus Drivers Can Practice Positive Behavioral Management
1 - Be positive
Positivity should begin when students get on the bus. Drivers should endeavor to greet students as they board the bus in a cheerful manner, and try to cultivate a friendly atmosphere onboard the bus. Something as simple as a "Good morning!" or "Good afternoon!" can help turn a student's day around, and make them less likely to act up.
2 - Get to know the students
A bus driver taking kids to and from home every day is going to spend at least as much time with those kids as any of their regular teachers - if not more. So, drivers should take the opportunity to try to cultivate positive relationships with the students. At the least, drivers should know the names of all their regulars, and hopefully know a bit about them too.
That opens the door to further positive conversations and other interactions which will encourage positive behavior from the students.
3 - Establish clear rules and boundaries
Positive behavioral management doesn't mean anarchy. There is still room for drivers to set rules and boundaries, and they should be clearly set - such as a short speech at the start of every afternoon route. These boundaries should focus on the most important aspects of bus-riding, such as staying in seats and not distracting the driver unnecessarily.
4 - Practice de-escalation techniques
If students are acting badly, the driver should first try to calmly and reasonably de-escalate the situation, without resorting to threats, yelling, or other "authoritarian" discipline techniques. Of course, sometimes it will be necessary for the driver to pull rank, but this shouldn't be the first response.
5 - Pick battles wisely
Drivers should give thought before disciplining students, especially if they think there's a chance it will only escalate the situation. Sometimes the best response to very minor acts of defiance or small breaches of the rules is just to let it go, because attempts at intervention will do more harm than good.
Does your district try to encourage positive interactions among their school bus drivers? What training techniques do you use? Let's talk about it below.