School leaders could never hope for silence on a school bus, but some are leading efforts to improve behavior and reduce bullying on the big yellow Blue Birds.
THE WI-FI BUS
Last fall, Matt Federoff was at home thumbing through an electronics catalog. One ad in particular caught his eye: “Wi-Fi hotspot in your car.” But Federoff wasn’t thinking about his car. As the chief information officer of the Vail (Arizona) School District, he wondered, “What if you could put that on a school bus?”
Federoff did a little more digging and learned that $200 could buy an Autonet Mobile router. For an additional $60 a month for an Internet contract, he might be able to reduce behavior problems on school buses in the district’s fleet.
Federoff’s idea has been transformed into an experiment that is returning interesting results. Since some students in his district travel 50 or more miles, a mobile Internet router enables them to use their time on the bus to research reports or do homework -- in essence, to extend the school day.
When they agreed to try out this idea, school officials didn’t have their heads in the sand. They knew many kids would use their Internet access to email friends or play online games. And that’s just fine. “That’s a whole lot better than having them bugging each other,” Calvin Baker, Vail’s superintendent told the New York Times. [Read the article, Wi-Fi Turns Rowdy Bus Into Rolling Study Hall].
BUS OF THE MONTH
Many principals award a Golden School Bus to a different bus each week as recognition of being the best behaved on their bus ride home. In Milford, Massachusetts, a group of principals got together and took that idea to the next level. They came up with consistent rules and consequences that would be shared among the schools as well as a plan for recognizing the “best behaved bus.”
Each time a bus pulls up to a school, the driver gives a thumbs up or thumbs down rating for student behavior, which a teacher records. At the end of the month, the bus with the most thumbs up ratings is Bus of the Month. The winning bus gets the honor of sporting a large "School Bus of the Month" magnet for the next month. The students receive small rewards, too.
Principals in Milford report that referrals for poor behavior on buses are way down since they introduced the Bus of the Month program. The program has turned what one principal called “recess on wheels” into a tremendous motivator for good behavior.
“Bus behavior is definitely better,” Lenny Morcone, district transportation coordinator, told Education World. “It definitely helps that there is cooperation between the schools and the drivers.”
Bus of the Month Program Drives Better Behavior
This Education World article describes the Milford, Massachusetts, program that has improved student behavior on the district’s buses.
School Bus Discipline: Solving the Problem
Is school bus discipline a problem in your school? This Education World article shares two school-bus discipline policies that might serve as effective models.
School-Wide Strategies for Managing... Bus Conduct
More effective ideas for handling students’ behavior on school buses.
Improving Student Bus-Riding Behavior Through a Whole-School Intervention
This Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis article describes a multi-component intervention that improved bus-riding behavior in an urban public school.