For Bus Drivers
How to Deal with Over-Active Students and Other Behavior Problems On The Bus
The most critical factors for preventing behavior problems include:
- Be clear on the behaviors you expect on the bus. Tell the students the behaviors that you like and do not like. Give them examples and show them.
- Be predictable and consistent. Do not change the way you deal with students depending on your mood. Have clear and fair consequences.
- Have a "time-out" seat close to you, if possible.
- Have students with the most severe behavioral problems sit near you, closest to the window seat. Maintain visibility to and from the student.
- Whenever possible, take the student aside when you have reached your destination and talk about his/her behavior. Speak calmly and matter of factly. Give warnings and explain what the consequences of breaking the rules will be. Then, follow through.
- Avoid embarrassing the student, or yelling at them. Some people think embarrassing the student will cause him or her to straighten up faster. That is just not so. This can and does escalate the problem and make it more difficult for you and the student. Do not criticize when correcting a student. Criticize the behavior, not the student.
- Practice, model (show the student how to act) and review your behavioral expectations and rules. Sometimes seating the student next to a peer who exhibits good behaviors helps the child imitate appropriate ways to act.
- Head off problems with preventative tactics:
- Teach your rules (Keep hands, feet and objects to yourselves; stay in your seat facing forward; be kind and courteous; speak to your neighbor quietly, etc.).
- Post your rules and review them often. Reinforce students who are sitting and acting appropriately.
- Praise is the best verbal reinforcer. You could choose a different student each day to lead the students off the bus who has shown an improvement in behavior. Notice the student when he or she has been good (for a change). Tell him/her and compliment him/her.
- Don't be fooled by inconsistency or assume the student is deliberately acting up just because you have previously observed the student's ability to sit and be good. Students who exhibit inappropriate behaviors are inconsistent in their behavior. Sometimes they can sit still, sometimes they cannot.
- Don't give up on trying to help the child improve his/her behavior. Students who exhibit inappropriate behaviors often don't respond to your positive attitude immediately.
- Don't surround yourself with negative peers who are critical of students, are not open or receptive to new techniques and strategies, or are not updating their skills.
Do Keep Up The Great Job! We Appreciate All That You Do!
This handout was prepared for bus drivers of elementary school students by the Department of Student Services, St. Mary's County Public Schools