Taming the Bus

photo 2Each and every year school starts and hundreds of kids are excited to get back to school, reconnect with friends, and enjoy another year of learning and growth at Ben-Hem. Many of these excited students take the bus to school and, for the first time in their lives, they are placed in an unsupervised setting with many of their peers. This presents a unique opportunity for kids to be independent and try out all kinds of independent behaviors. For parents and school faculty this can be both exciting and anxiety producing.

As children wander into and explore the world of the bus rider, they try on new behaviors and watch their peers try on new behaviors. These behaviors are not always exactly what we would like to see. Thus we are presented with many, many opportunities to provide feedback and support the development of context specific appropriate behaviors. As I discussed in my post on School Wide Positive Behavior Supports, we take a proactive approach in supporting students in acquiring these skills. This is a multifaceted endeavor but I wanted to take a moment to hi-light one of the key components of this process, bus assemblies.

You heard it, bus assemblies. Twice a year Mr. Gatto arranges a mock bus ride in the cafeteria. Students are called to the cafeteria by bus number and there they spend time with Mr. Gatto taking part in a rule setting, role playing, informative adventure. Students sit in chairs that are arranged to resemble the layout of the actual bus. Mr. Gatto starts the ride by reviewing basic rules and expectations. Afterwards students identify common problems on the bus. Kids getting out of their seats, kids not sharing seats, and kids yelling are all common responses. Once identified, Mr. Gatto engages the bus riders in problem solving role plays. Students get to act out the problems while other riders offer creative solutions to these common problems. The kids have a great time and the learning is meaningful.

We have conducted these assemblies for a few years now and we find them to be very successful in taming our buses. Beyond the assemblies we rely heavily on parent feedback on bus rides. When kids hop off the bus one of the first things families ask is, “How was your day?” The bus ride is the nearest experience to the question and conversations, if there was a problem on the bus, reliably start there. If your child relays a problem to you, please let us know. The sooner we can address issues the more likely it is they will easily cease.

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