Misbehaving on the School Bus
The school bus or taxi is where many pupils start and end the school day. It is also the source of many complaints about behaviour, either from the public or the bus company. So what can a school do about this? I came across a beautifully conceived piece of work carried out by a school in Massachusetts. This project is a wonderful example of Students as Researchers and also of the Choice Theory idea that if a person is in your Quality World, then you are more likely to behave in a respectful way towards them. The removal of
anonymity is an important first step to being in another person’s Quality World.
The principal of Memorial Elementary School was continually drawing students’ attention to the problem of bus misconduct, and continually reminding them of the importance of proper behaviour. After conducting a survey, a group of students realized that the problem was connected to peer conflicts on the bus and a general disregard for the bus drivers’ efforts to enforce appropriate behavioral expectations.
Mrs. Okun’s third grade class decided to strengthen their relationship with the Memorial School bus drivers with the goal of establishing “a positive relationship of mutual respect and understanding.” The theory behind the concept was that by having a more personalized relationship with the drivers, students would be more likely to appreciate the drivers’ efforts to enforce rules of conduct on the bus, thus alleviating bullying. Students surveyed bus drivers and other members of the school community and then worked on a brochure to highlight appropriate school bus rules, and made presentations to other classes throughout the school building. The second project was to create a book entitled “Getting to Know Our Bus Drivers,” which provided brief biographies of the drivers. Finally, the culminating activity was to host a Bus Driver Appreciation Breakfast to show that students’had learned the value of respectful interactions.
The impact was a measurable reduction in the number of “bus tickets” received at Memorial School this year and, certainly notable, was the fact that not one student in Mrs. Okun’s class was disciplined for a bus misconduct infraction during the entire school year!