The School Bus: Savior of Public Education PART II

The School Bus: Savior of Public Education PART II

December 16, 2015

If you haven't read Part I you owe it to yourself.  Here's the follow up 10 ways to take back control of your bus situation.  

#1.  Get assertive.  You’re a freakin’ grownup.  You don’t need 12 year old friends.  Act like an adult (even if you don’t feel like one).  There's a right way to do this and a wrong way. 

#2.  Assume the best in your students.  Nobody likes a person who’s actively looking to spring the trap.  Don’t confuse #2 with being passive on #1. 

#3.  Act interested even if you’re not.  What are your students interested in, what makes them tick?  If it’s not easy for you to act like you care, stand in front of a mirror and repeat the following sentence, “If I don’t care, these children will destroy me”.    Take as long as you need.  Afterward watch the following video.

#4.   Set clear expectations.  It’s not fair to hold children accountable to standards they are not aware of.   Take the time, out of the driver’s seat, at the beginning of the year to share, not preach, how they are going to treat each other while they have the “privilege” of riding “The Ocho”.  

#5.   What you permit you promote.  Kids are not like kids of the past.  With me, if you gave an inch I took a mile.  Today, you give an inch the kid will literally take EVERYTHING.  You’ll wind up sitting in the back seat bumping your head on the ceiling as a 8 year old drives your bus into oblivion.  If a decision is made to violate your expectations, address it immediately.  Know the rules but get creative in their explanation and enforcement.  

#6.   Be difficult about the things that are important.  Don’t be afraid to stand firmly on what’s right.  

#7.   Have the support of your boss.  If you are gong to take this approach to driving you’re going to be in the minority.  Be sure to sit down with those you report to and let them know your intentions.  You would think there wouldn’t be any pushback from administrators and/or parents but trust me, there could be.  Be absolutely prepared to describe your approach and the results you expect to see.  Invite those who might be apprehensive to followup by going on a ride-along.  Here's some more ammunition for you argument: 

#8.   Inspire.  Leading by example and showing loving kindness to students while maintaining a high level of mutual respect is inspiring.  Shia LeBouef would tell you to just do it.

#9.   Delight.  No matter how you feel about it, kids young and old love to be surprised.  Do things to delight them.  One of the ways I like to delight is to break the rules.  Don’t tell on me.  On occasion we would dispense with official policy and have a day where students could eat and drink on the bus.  On occasions we would do seat swaps, let students operate the signals, and or open the door to let their peers off.  Delight your students, it can be a game changer. 

#10.  Have fun.  This DOES NOT go without saying.  How many times have you seen a bus driver through the window smiling ear to ear.  Almost never. Find a way to enjoy the drive and allow your students to see that you are enjoying yourself.  Boom goes the dynamite.  


Do these things and even in the midst of turmoil you’ll students will behave admirably.  Don’t believe me?  Early into my 3rd year driving I actually put my bus into a ditch.  On board, fifteen 5-6 year old Kindergartners.  It became clear to me the bus could very easily turn over if we didn’t respond quickly.  The kiddo’s were resilient.  The culture I had build on my bus using the 10 steps described above resulted in all of my riders exiting the bus at lightning speed and sitting down in a line once outside as I secured the bus.  She pictures below for proof I’m not full of it.  Trust me, this doesn’t happen without a culture of trust and mutual respect. 

It’s worth mentioning that there are many initiatives currently taking an engaged approach to transporting children.  The “Peaceful School Bus Program” is one such example.  Their mission is to “change the social dynamics on the school bus by building strong, positive relationships among students and the bus driver and teaching students to take responsibility for their bus route group and what happens on the bus”  (   They have several goals including decreasing the amount of disciplinary action needed, the amount of bullying, and the amount of inappropriate behavior occurring on many buses.  They have created a structure to facilitate these goals and have identified key stakeholders who can provide the best effect for chance.  Check out their entire initiative here:


Here’s some additional reading pertaining to the topic for your reading pleasure:

  1. Charaterisitics of a Good Bus Driver

  2. Bus Driver’s as Mentors & Friends

  3. A Parents Guide to Riding a Bus.

  4. How to teach your kids about bus riding safety

Thanks for reading folks.  The call to action is simple: Man Up.


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