Amid all the talk of school violence in the news, it is not if but when a student will ask, “Am I safe on this school bus?” You may only have a second or two to answer. What are you going to say and how do you say it?
Here are some tips:
- Be prepared, not scared. Don’t be in denial. School violence can happen anywhere.
- Respect every student's concerns and treat them seriously. They do not see the world through your eyes.
- Look and listen before you talk. Make sure that you are addressing the student’s needs and not your own.
- Assure them they are as safe as can be. Make sure you know your safety procedures for all hazards and practice them if you can.
- Model good behavior, as you would want your students to do. Stay calm, cool and collected. Don’t yell or use excessive force if you need to restrain.
- Control your emotions. Show concern, but contain your fear and anger.
- Offer age and value appropriate advice based on your school system’s safety policy and procedures.
- Keep routines. They provide comfort and support.
- If a student seems to be very upset as judged by their body language or fearful conversation, seek the help of mental health professional such as a school counselor or school psychologist.
- Stress the importance of safety procedures so that everyone is accounted for in a safe and orderly fashion.
- Let them know that they have a role to play in keeping their bus safe. Let them know about If you see something, say something, because you do not have eyes in the back of your head. (Smile). And let them know that if you say something that will keep everyone safe, it is not tattling on someone, but helping and protecting everyone.
- Starting each day and greeting each student by name and with a smile goes a long way towards creating a safe and orderly bus driving experience.
- You may quip, “Make it a good day, unless you decide otherwise.”
- Tell them, “Together we make this bus ride as safe as it can be.”
Are you ready for the question, “Am I safe on this school bus?” Because bus safety is built in, not tacked on.