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What are some common problems on school buses? Bullying Older students “staking claim” to certain areas of the school bus Loud noise, shouting Disrespect of personal property Other problems
What is the effect of problems on school buses? Drivers can feel overwhelmed and unsupported—end up disliking their jobs Students feel unsafe on the bus Parents feel that their children are unsafe on the school bus Students’ academic achievement may decrease Going to school can become a negative experience
What is the definition of bullying? According to pioneering researcher, Dr. Dan Olweus, the definition of bullying is: “A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself. ”
What is the definition of bullying? Bullying involves three components: 1. Negative, unwanted actions 2. Repeated over time 3. There is a power imbalance
What is the definition of bullying? This power imbalance can be due to: A larger student bullying a smaller student Several students bullying one student A student with more “social power” bullying a less popular student Bullying really is a form of peer abuse!
Why is the environment on a school bus so difficult to manage? It is an impersonal environment: students all sit facing forward. The driver is not looking directly at the students. The driver is often farthest away from the students who are causing problems.
Difficult environment (continued) The noise level is very loud. The bus has no visible connection to school or home. The bus is often a cramped space. Usually only overt physical actions are caught; more subtle problems are missed. Problems that go undetected can escalate.
Difficult environment (continued) People with the most authority to stop the problem are miles away. Students cannot easily go to an adult for help. The school bus is a dramatically different environment from school. At school the adults can supervise and monitor without having conflicting duties.
Difficult environment (continued) Lack of face to face interaction—people can be seen as objects Mixed ages Bus routes have no identity therefore they can be viewed as unimportant to students Perception that bus behavior is not important to adults Fatigue contributes to less control and self regulation
Why don’t traditional disciplinary approaches alone work? They only address a fraction of the harmful behaviors that occur. They don’t address hurtful behaviors that are not against the rules. They fail to teach students the skills or knowledge needed to solve conflicts effectively.
The problems with traditional approaches (continued) They make the students who get caught more self-centered and less empathetic. They require students to think rationally in a very emotional environment. They set low expectations for student behavior.
The problems with traditional approaches (continued) They focus on the perpetrators primarily and sometimes the targets and never the bystanders. A disciplinary response is often very delayed, so much so, that the incident is often forgotten or unclear in the child’s mind.
The problems with traditional approaches (continued) Students can end up becoming “cynical” or resigned to bullying on the bus not being addressed by adults. Ownership of the problem is limited to a people when it is a school problem. few
The problems with traditional approaches (continued) Bullying and conflict can be easily lumped together Leads to lying and deception Doesn’t keep pace with students’ ability to bully under the radar increased
What Can We Do? (On the busfor drivers) Prevention is better then reaction. Create an environment that decreases the likelihood that bullying will occur or will persist. Relationships/Relationships. Develop and nurture personal positive relationships among all members of the bus community.
On the bus: Create an identity for the bus route. Take a bus route picture. Have a Name the Bus contest. Be clear and explicit about what you expect. Post rules about bullying (use Olweus or equivalent). Bully free zone. State expectations for positive behaviors
On the bus: Know the basic facts about bullying. Know the power dynamics of the bus-who is high on the power scale who is low. Put those in power in a helping role. Protect those who are low in power. Know the difference between bullying and conflict. Your response needs to be appropriate to the problem. Never mediate conflict. Never ignore bullying.
On the bus: Involve students in the problem and the solutions. Let students know that you need their help. Have older students help and support younger students. Ask students to make posters on bus safety to put on the bus. Help students see that positive behavior is connected to their own safety. Students need to see that their behavior can distract the driver which could end up leading to an accident that could hurt them.
On the bus: Address the seating arrangement (don’t leave it to chance). Older students like to claim the back of the bus. Either acknowledge it or create another arrangement. Tell older students how to deal with younger ones migrating to the back. Make clear the difference between reporting and tattling. When someone is being hurt everyone is responsible for stopping it –report it! Tattling is trying to just get someone else in trouble.
On the bus: Assume that the staff in the school do care and do want to help. Little problems are easier to deal with than big problems. Have a bus route meeting with students to talk about persistent bus route problems. This gives the message that problems can be solved by talking and it allows the problem to be shared. Ask for help with the meeting.
On the bus: Basic rules for intervening/correcting: Be aware of your own emotions. When angry your first job is to not say anything until you are calm. Never publicly humiliate students. Separate them and talk to students one at a time. Separate behavior from the person. Never say “you are ____” Say “When you did____, this is what happened. ”
On the bus: Basic rules for intervening/correcting: Avoid sarcasm. Kids get confused. Don’t make threats. State consequences and follow through on them in a calm way. Use an incremental approach. Make sure kids know them in advance. Have a plan set in advance so you don’t have to think of what to do under duress. Relocate students and if necessary use assigned seating. When in doubt, consult with someone else.
On the bus: Parents are allies not the problem. Ask for support and help rather than complain. Never be negative about the student-only the behavior. Assume that the parent of the perpetrator wants their child to learn better ways to solve problems. Make sure the student sees that you and the parent are working together and not at odds. Build positive emotional bank accounts as leverage dealing with problems. Report progress in behavior.
On the bus: Parents are allies not the problem. It is ok to make a mistake, no one is perfect so if parent shares a problem or complain first try to understand it before defending yourself. View complains as feedback that will help you do your job. It is hard to over communicate with parents. There are consequences for not communicating, so be proactive. When in doubt call for back up support.
On the bus: Know your influence in creating a positive culture. Focus on the positive. Don’t expect perfection. Students are works in progress. Enjoy the students are people. Know their names. Find common interests: sports, music, hobbies, favorites etc. Let students know you as a person but not as peer or friend. Find something to like in even the most hard to like students (these are often targets of bullying).
On the bus: Know your influence in creating a positive culture. Know birthdays and share them. Share age appropriate jokes, riddles, word of the day, knocks. Give students something to look forward to. Ask them to share favorite jokes etc. It is okay to admit you made a mistake. Say “Please” , “Thank you”, “Your welcome” Let students know that you like hearing those words Celebrate cooperation. Your are a team! When in doubt follow the Golden Rule.
What to do in the school? (for staff) Increase the awareness among teachers and staff that the school day starts and ends on the bus. If students arrive anxious or emotionally damaged, they are not ready to learn. If they are anxious about getting on the bus, they can’t attend to lessons. Share the research confirming the effects of bullying on learning. It is in the teachers interest to support efforts to make the bus ride a positive experience.
What to do in the school? (for staff) Use existing curriculum, programs, lesson plans as opportunities to include a message about positive bus behavior. There is no need to put anything new on a teacher’s plate. There are enough ways to integrate an anti bullying message into what is already being done in the school. The school bus is a real world test for character education programs. Let students know that “true character” shows itself when it could be easy to act irresponsibly.
What to do in the school? (for staff) The school bus is a great place for community service and exercising student leadership. Let the older student know that they are needed as leaders on the bus. Use extra curricular activities, student council activities as a way of mobilizing student leadership and responsibility on the bus. Ask teachers to use classroom meetings as a way to discuss bus problems. Positive behavior doesn’t necessarily transfer to non school building environments, so teachers need to make the connection explicit.
What to do in the school? (for staff) Make use of children’s literature and writing assignments. Each student’s experience on the bus is unique and personal. It is an immediate and relevant topic for reading and writing. Have students make Thank you cards for bus drivers-use lunch time if necessary. Advertise in whatever way possible that staff in the building care about what happens on the bus. Don’t assume that students will know that. Make an announcement about that over the PA. Put up posters stating that it is ok to report hurtful behavior. Promote cross age/cross grade activities in the school building. If students develop relationships with students outside of their grade level, there is greater likelihood that younger students will have supports or allies on the bus.
What to do in the school? (for staff) Share data regarding bus behavior with staff and students. Knowledge of results is critical to all learning. Data regarding the number behavioral referrals can help set goals and measure progress. Designate one bulletin board to news and topics related to the school bus. This is a tangible reminder that the school bus is part of the school. Have student committee in charge of maintaining it. Put bus driver interviews, bus route pictures, news and data on it. Find opportunities to have bus drivers come into the building on a regular basis. Drivers can be great “secret readers” to primary classes. They can talk about their jobs to as part of vocational and career education for older students.
What to do in the school? (for staff) Ask PTA/PTO to sponsor a bus driver appreciation activity or event. At the end of the year, it come be as simple as having lemonade and snack available for them in the afternoon. Have someone other than school principal or assistant principal available to each bus driver- create bus liaisons. Principals often appear too busy or preoccupied for bus drivers to approach, especially if the problem is just starting to brew. This often leads to the problems escalating unnecessarily just because of communication problems. Having additional school personnel available avoids this problems; it is also a tangible show of support on the part of the school.
What to do in the school? (for staff) Give students a school wide (bus included) way for resolving conflicts. Unresolved conflicts among students can often lead to bullying. Post some simple methods for conflict resolution helps students know what to do in stressful situations. For example, “Talk, Walk, or Use Rock/Paper/Scissors. Have school wide themes or activities related to Random Acts of Kindness, Following the Golden Rule, Pay It Forward and make the bus a place to practice this. Promoting positive activities that are incompatible with bullying provides a positive way of addressing a negative behavior. This helps to create a culture that says that bullying is against school norms.
What to do? (administrative/system wide) Help define the problem for the school. Bullying can be invisible so it easy for school staff to think it is not a problem. School leadership has to create an urgency about a problem that many think doesn’t exist. Have mission statement/priorities include a reference to school buses. Collect appropriate data on bullying and school climate on a regular basis. Share data with staff and community in a positive context not as criticism. It is a sign of strength to want to know what is happening on buses.
What to do? (administrative/system wide) Reframe the problem. It is not just a discipline problem but one of climate and culture. It is really a question of “What type of school do we want to be? ” Administrators should regularly meet and greet the buses in the morning and afternoon as much as possible. This models the type of behavior that should be expected of staff and it also shows what is valued in the school. Invite bus drivers into the building for informal chats. Try to arrange a time to have coffee together or other community building opportunities.
What to do? (administrative/system wide) Include bus drivers in staff development activities. If they can’t come to the school building, administrators should ask if they can participate in staff development given by the transportation department. Build relationships with transportation personnel before problems bring you together. Make sure bus drivers know that administrators welcome problems and want to help. Simply saying this directly can have powerful impact on perceptions.
What to do? (administrative/system wide) Publicize your positive efforts to improve what is happening on the bus. Involve local businesses in promoting bullying prevention issues with the bus being featured in the materials. Have focus groups of bus drivers and/or students to get more qualitative data. The gesture of having these also sends a tangible message that administration cares.
What to do? (administrative/system wide) Since bus problems are so difficult to address, any success is a sign that problems can be recognized, addressed and resolved-make sure everyone knows that. Turns a negative into a positive. Hope for other problems. Don’t be afraid to show passion, determination and confidence about having an emotionally safe environment for everyone. Celebrate progress and success together!
What to do? (administrative/system wide with parents) Be open and accepting of parent complaints. Tone of voice sends a message so be alert to it. Parents need to know that their complaints are taken seriously. Let parents know that complaints are viewed as feedback that allows administration to do its job. Administrators do not ride the bus and are not there when students get off the bus. Parental complaints provides critical information about what is happening on the bus. Make sure administrators thank parents for calling. Investment and caring is always better than indifference so recognize that to the parent Listen, listen. Ask questions. Seek clarification. Make sure that you have the right information.
What to do? (administrative/system wide with parents) Find out what it is you can do for them-what do they want. Make sure you find out what exactly is the parent asking you to do or what do you see as the outcome of the complaint. Whether or not you can give them what they want, knowing it in advance helps you decide how to address or resolve the problem. Lack of evidence regarding the complaint is no excuse for dismissing it. At least acknowledge the emotions connected to the complaint: “I am sorry that your child experienced that. ” Make sure they know that you care about what happened and how it affected the student and the parent. After that it is ok to explain what the facts of the situation either allow or limit what you can do. At least indicate that you will monitor the situation and communicate with those involved.
What to do? (administrative/system wide with parents) Follow up is critically important. It should be a priority to get back to parents as soon as possible even if they might not like what you have to say. Being late in responding only reinforces a perception of not caring and this will create more anger than any response you make to the problem. Make sure parents and the students know that you want them to let you know if the problem reoccurs. Document every conversation and interaction as well as the complaint and subsequent action taken. Realize that any positive steps taken to prevent bullying and inappropriate bus behavior builds good will and reinforces that fact that you care. Parents are more likely to trust your good faith efforts when you have already demonstrated your commitment to this type of problem.
What to do? (administrative/system wide with parents) For recalcitrant problems with certain students, consider having the parents, the bus driver and the student attend a meeting that you facilitate. With the right preparation and prior consultation, a meeting with the driver and parents can send a powerful message to the student about what is expected of him/her. It eliminates the student trying to manipulate the situation. This type of meeting could lead to a contract with the students stating what is expected of him or her. (This should not be the first intervention and should be done with attention and preparation. )
What to do? (administrative/system wide with parents) Remember that with most problems, there is no one to blame and everyone is responsible for resolving it. Parents, transportation personnel and administrators all share the same ultimate goal. Bus problems are by their nature very difficult ones to ascertain and address. Emphasize the need to work together as a prerequisite for being successful. Think big (stop bullying) but start small. (Michael Fullan) Include parents on any school/district wide committee or task force.
A different approach is needed. . . The Peaceful School Bus Program!
What is the Peaceful School Bus Program? A school wide program A program designed to decrease inappropriate behavior on the school bus A program designed to create a climate of respect and cooperation on the bus A program designed to change the social dynamics on the bus by building strong relationships among students and the bus driver
The Peaceful School Bus Program is not a. . . Discipline program Training for bus drivers Curriculum
Who is the Peaceful School Bus Program designed for? The program is designed for students in elementary school and can be adapted for middle school or junior high school students. The program can be used with high school students if they play a mentoring role. The program can be adapted for use with after-school programs, sports teams, and other youth-serving organizations.
What are the goals of the program? The main goal: Develop a positive and safe environment on the school bus for all students.
The main goal is achieved by addressing these subgoals Decrease the amount of inappropriate behaviors on the school bus. Decrease the amount of time spent disciplining students for inappropriate behaviors on the school bus. Decrease the amount of bullying that occurs on the school bus.
Subgoals (continued) Increase students’ sense of responsibility for what happens on the school bus. Create a cooperative and supportive relationship between the school and the school transportation department. Recognize the identity of the bus route group as an important entity.
Subgoals (continued) Create greater trust among all stakeholders in the school bus: students, parents, school staff members, and transportation staff members. Improve communication among all stakeholders. Support and strengthen the existing discipline procedures designed to address school bus problems.
What is the history of the program? It was developed in a real-world setting in an elementary school in upstate New York. Prior to implementation, the school had approximately 58 bus discipline referrals per year. The average number of bus discipline referrals per year after implementation was 9.
History of the program (continued) In 2004, the New York State Sharing Success Network recognized the program as a Promising Practice. The program has now been successfully implemented in other school districts. It is being well-received at state and national education and school transportation conferences.
What are the program’s main components? Establish a schoolwide committee to coordinate implementation. Hold a training for all participating school staff. Inform parents of the program. All students in a bus route group meet approximately 3 times a year for 45 minutes each time.
A bus route group is. . . A group of students who regularly ride to and from school together on a school bus.
Main components (continued) A team of teachers and teaching assistants lead the bus route group meetings. School transportation staff and bus drivers are invited to participate in the program. Regular check-ins are done with bus drivers.
Main components (continued) The program is repeated annually and becomes part of the regular school schedule. During the meetings, students take part in activities designed to build relationships. During the meetings, students in higher grades are paired with students in lower grades.
Main components (continued) During the meetings, students discuss bus problems and solutions. During the meetings, students are taught about bullying. Processes are put in place to facilitate reporting of bullying or other negative behaviors on the school bus.
Why use the Peaceful School Bus Program? It approaches school bus problems from a positive perspective. It moves schools from a reactive approach to a proactive approach. It puts character education into practice. It demonstrates the school’s commitment to parents and students. It creates a greater sense of teamwork among school staff members and bus drivers.
What is required to implement the program? Very little financial cost—all materials are provided in the implementation guide. The implementation guide includes a manual, a CD-ROM, and a DVD. One guide is recommended for each committee member and each bus route group leader. One guide is recommended for each school administrator. No specialized training is required.
What is required to implement the program? (continued) The program does require administrative support and staff buy-in. The program will require some changes to the school calendar. The program needs to be implemented over the long-term.
What is the role of a bus route group leader? Meet and greet students as they arrive at the bus route group meeting location Lead the meeting activities Help adapt or revise activities to fit the needs of students
What happens at a bus route group meeting? Student arrival At the start Getting attention Checking for understanding Forming pairs Energizers and warm-ups Main activity Large group processing Dismissal
What is covered in the meeting’s main activity? Orientation to the Peaceful School Bus Program Building identity for the bus route group Problem-solving Bullying issues Assessment and affirmation
A time for questions and answers. . . For more information, call 1 -800 -328 -9000 or visit www. hazelden. org/peacefulschoolbus [email protected] org jdillon [email protected] com Every Child Deserves a Peaceful School Bus! © 2008 by Hazelden Foundation. All rights reserved.