Managing student behavior on school buses is one of the biggest problems confronting school bus drivers and school administrators. Since the school bus is an extension of the school, disciplining students on the school bus is as much the bus driver’s responsibility as it the school’s responsibility. School bus behavior must be taught in the school, including clearly indicating acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Acceptable behavior should be reinforced and unacceptable behavior should have consequences.

Step 1

Make sure that the students are aware of school bus rules. Classroom teachers play an important role in teaching students about school bus rules before they board the bus. The teachers can review bus rules with the students including telling the students that they must sit in their designated seat during the bus drive. The teachers can also walk students to the bus pick-up location and take responsibility for getting the kids settled in their seats on the bus. Since the students have a relationship with the teacher, there is an increased probability that the student will listen to the teacher, as he or she will have to the face the teacher the following day in class. While getting the students settled in the bus, the teacher can restate the rules regarding appropriate behavior in the bus and the consequences for those students who break the rules.

Step 2

Enforce the rules of appropriate behavior. Bus drivers play an important role in managing students’ behavior on the bus. The bus driver should have a clipboard with the assigned seat and name of the each child on the bus. The students should be aware that the bus driver is the authority in the bus. If a student is being disruptive, the bus driver should call out the student's name as a first warning. If the student continues to be disruptive during the same bus ride, a disciplinary referral should be written and submitted to the appropriate school administrator. The school administrator should then contact the parents and collaboratively approach the student and discuss his behavior on the bus.

Step 3

Define rewards and consequences to the students. Inform the students that if they misbehave during the bus ride, their punishment will range from a first offense warning to a call to their parents. Innovative school programs have even allowed bus drivers to make phone calls to the parents themselves, so as to give the drivers more authority and to involve them in the disciplining process. The students should also be informed that if their misbehavior does not end, their bus riding privileges can be taken away and they can be suspended from riding the bus. On the other hand, the students should be rewarded daily for good behavior on the bus. The bus driver can make a note of the good behavior. At the end of each school week, the bus driver can give a certificate to the best behaved student on the bus. This reinforces good behavior and will encourage other students to behave properly while in the bus.