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Teaching Students Safe and Responsible Bus Ridership


mental or emotional disabilities may require special effort and planning. Repeat and reinforce. Children

learn safety procedures most effectively in “small bites” and through frequent repetition of simple key points. A “one shot” student training session, no matter how professional and dynamic, will be ineffective unless the key points are reinforced multiple times. Train hands-on. Children learn

safety procedures best by practice. Listening to an adult talk just about a safety procedure is a very ineffective teaching method. Most bus drill reg- ulations recognize the importance of experiential learning for children and require both “practice and instruction” to know the location and operation of emergency exits, for instance. A bus drill cannot be just a lecture. Make it enjoyable. Children, like


ommunicating with chil- dren is the heart of school bus safety. No matter how safe the equipment, or

how well trained the bus driver and attendant or monitor, children will be at risk unless they understand safety procedures. Over the past generation, the school

transportation industry has set a new standard in student safety training. School bus safety organizations have combined efforts to create effective, age-appropriate educational materials for students. However, one essential link in the student safety education chain has been somewhat neglect- ed — the bus driver. No matter how exciting or professionally designed the classroom safety materials, unless bus drivers effectively reinforce safety pro- cedures with their own students, the procedures probably will not “take.” Some bus drivers, of course, are magnificent safety instructors for children. Tey intuitively know how to

44 School Transportation News May 2014

teach kids safety. But many other bus drivers are not natural teachers. A sur- prising number feel intimidated by the prospect of trying to teach their bus riders. It’s easy to forget the famous fear of public speaking can apply when speaking to children as well as adults. Every bus driver, however, needs to grasp the fact that their job requires teaching students safety.


How do children learn? Basic prin- ciples include the following: Age-appropriate. A school bus

driver’s instructional goals and ap- proach must be appropriate for the age level of the children. Kindergarteners do not have the mental development to grasp complex ideas or understand adult reasoning, and talking “over chil- dren’s heads” is easy to do. Likewise, talking down to older students can shut down communication. Commu- nicating effectively with children with

adults, tend to be more receptive to learning when they’re having fun at the same time — it’s just human nature. Even a serious topic such as evacuation can be taught in an enjoyable manner.

BUS DRILL LAW Most states have a law or regula-

tion specifying a minimum number of drills each year. Whenever possible, it is recommended that drivers teach their own students. Tat way, if an actual emergency occurs, a relationship will already have been established between driver and students that may prevent panic and confusion. Drills are required for all stu-

dents. Students with disabilities, for instance, are not exempt. For students who do not ride a bus to school on a daily basis, the school district has the responsibility to ensure they also receive drill training. Schools fulfill the responsibility in many different ways such as arranging for “walkers” to have a bus drill and involving students with disabilities to the extent possible.

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