‘Back-to-School’ is just around the corner, but kids aren’t the only ones getting ready for the school year. Bus drivers are also gearing up (no pun intended) to make their first pick-ups of the season. They are the initial point of contact for new students and their parents on the first day of school. Here are some tips and tricks to make sure those first pick-ups go well for everyone – parents, students, and bus driver!
Bus Safety First
The safety of the students is the top priority for the bus driver. Every day, before leaving the garage, it is essential to ensure that the bus is in safe working condition. Checking the crossing lights, crossing arm, emergency exits, windshield wipers, and brakes help to provide a safe ride for the students. Students unfamiliar with safety procedures for embarking and disembarking may need instruction. Dave Butler, a seasoned bus driver, shares his method of teaching students in the article, School Bus Safety Checklist for Bus Driver. “I’ve been teaching them to… get off the bus…and go ten feet in front of the bus so my eyes can meet [their] eyes and I’ll give [them] the universal cross signal for [them] to cross.”
Promoting a Positive Environment
It is essential to create a positive environment in the first few days of a new school year. Detailing expectations gives the students boundaries for behavior and the bus driver a framework to enforce discipline when needed. Will students be permitted to sit wherever they wish? Is it be acceptable to change their seat mid-ride? Will the use of smartphones and other electronics be allowed? These are questions a bus driver will have to answer before the first day of school. Some bus drivers find that assigned seats help to maintain discipline. Veteran bus driver John Farr likes the assigned seating method since it increases accountability and cuts down on vandalism problems. In the Schoolbus Fleet article, Strategies for Discipline Problems on the School Bus, Farr also encourages bus drivers to compliment students on positive behaviors and not just single out the bad actors.
Driving a school bus is a rewarding and exciting career. Bus drivers are an extension of the school and have the critical task of ensuring that the school day begins and ends safely and positively. Bus drivers are not merely taxi drivers, ferrying students to and fro. Instead, bus drivers are among the most influential adults in their students’ lives. They are part of the necessary support staff that makes up every successful school.