Every day, students embark on a journey to school, and for many, that journey begins on the school bus. The school bus is more than just a mode of transportation, it is a microcosm of the educational experience. It’s a place where students of different ages, backgrounds, and interests come together, often for the first time in their lives.
However, the school bus environment can also be a breeding ground for stress, conflicts, and even bullying if not managed effectively.
This article will explore the importance of building a sense of community culture and the strategies that can be used to create a positive and inclusive environment for students.
Strategies for creating a positive bus culture
1) Driver involvement and leadership
School bus drivers should be friendly and approachable – a simple smile and greeting to the students can go a long way. They should learn the students’ names and say something positive whenever possible. Drivers who have frequent positive interactions with students usually experience significantly better bus behaviors than drivers who emphasize reprimanding and punishment.
School bus drivers should also assume leadership by deciding what they will do if misbehavior occurs. For example, when students become disrespectful, the driver pulls to the side of the road and tells them that it is not safe to drive if their misbehavior is distracting them and hurtful to the other students.
2) Student involvement and responsibility
Encourage student leadership and promote respect and empathy among peers. For example, school bus drivers can lead by example to their students by making firm decisions. It’s also an innovative idea for the bus drivers to assign a role to every student, even if that role is a small one. By doing this, the bus driver assures that every student feels important, but at the same time, has a sense of responsibility and accountability to the other students riding the bus.
Students should be encouraged to take action to prevent bullying by reporting it to bus drivers, parents, school officials, or anyone else in authority, whether they witness a bullying incident or experience being bullied themselves.
3) Parent and school support
Schools should communicate expectations and values, such as bus behavior guidelines.
Even though they usually have less direct involvement in the school bus than teachers, students, and bus drivers, parents are still an important part of a school culture. For this reason, schools should involve parents and guardians in fostering a positive culture by encouraging them to reinforce positive behavior at home. For example, nurturing a positive climate at home and teaching their children emotional and people skills can help them stand up for themselves and other kids who are targeted by bullying, or become more empathetic towards other kids.
The school administration should also find innovative ways to include parents and guardians in school activities, instead of calling them for traditional PTA meetings. They should ask parents and guardians to join communities, help with fundraising events, and volunteer in the classroom.
4) Implement community-building activities
Schools should implement icebreaker exercises, come up with games that promote team building, organize community events, etc., to create a positive and friendly atmosphere. Also, engage students to understand the impact of bullying through creative group activities.
5) Special events and rewards
Schools should recognize positive behavior and contribution and encourage a sense of inclusiveness and belonging through rewards and special events. For example, raffle tickets, a small treat, a homework pass, and sitting with their favorite person on the school bus are some of the ways to incentivize good behavior.
Traveling on the school bus every day can be an enjoyable or distressing experience for the student. It is up to the school district, students, parents, and bus drivers to create a positive culture that exists on the bus. When students follow the established rules, exhibit a sense of empathy, and treat each other with respect, rides on the school bus will end positively and safely.
As a result of the positive school bus culture, students will have a reason to look forward to going to school. They will feel truly safe and have a sense of belonging, and those positive emotions will make it easier for them to learn and process information when they’re in the classroom.
You can see how school bus drivers can make a positive impact as community leaders. If you would like to have a similar impact in your community, and are considering a career as a school bus driver, check the Jobs Near You to see what is available.