|Behavior Management Training and the Video Camera: A Winning Partnership|
|Written by Linda F. Bluth, Ed.D, and Kathy Furneaux|
|Monday, 01 February 1999 16:55|
For years now, transportation personnel have mysteriously searched for the optimal way to manage inappropriate and dangerous student behavior on the school bus. At times, there is a desperate necessity to find the secret to unlocking what works best for eliminating inappropriate student behavior that jeopardizes safety. In reality, there is no secret to what works for all students, but rather a combination of interventions that work together.
First and foremost, parents and students should receive written information delineating what the expectations and rules are for all students riding the yellow school buses to and from school. This information should be disseminated prior to the beginning of each new school year. Acceptable and unacceptable bus behavior must be clearly spelled out, including consequences for inappropriate behavior. It is essential that educators (administrators and teachers) and drivers review school bus rules with students the first day of school and periodically thereafter. Repeatedly, it is recognized that appropriate bus behavior occurs more frequently when students are greeted by a school building administrator who exhibits an active interest in appropriate student behavior on the bus. Management strategies may include asking the driver how things went on the morning route to school. When behavior problems are not a problem, a random greeting by a school administrator may be sufficient to maintain desired behaviors.
Key to providing a safe bus environment are knowledge and understanding by students and parents alike about what is acceptable behavior on the school bus. Ongoing support by administrators is essential to maintain a safe bus environment. The driver is key to daily maintenance of acceptable behavior. If there is to be appropriate behavior on the bus, it is imperative that the driver demonstrate respect and interest in all children being transported. Over the years, it has become increasingly evident that drivers who greet children are more likely to be in control of their school buses. Repeatedly, it has been observed when special needs students are transported and the drivers attitude is "I am only responsible for driving the bus, and the monitor is responsible for the students and their behaviors," some students demonstrate little respect for the driver, leaving the monitor on his/her own. Not a winning situation!
Underestimated in the management of school bus behavior is the importance of how students leave a school building and arrive at the bus. Unfortunately, in some school districts, there continues to be a split in the perceived and assumed responsibility between school building personnel and the bus driver. Some school administrators see their responsibility terminating when students exit the school building. Under these circumstances, drivers may find that they are the recipients of an unruly group of students. Appropriate behavior must be established prior to boarding the bus.
Complicating matters further are students who receive medication during the school day to manage attention deficit disorders and hyperactivity, but who are no longer at a therapeutic medication level prior to the ride home. This problem is readily acknowledged by educators and transporters and can be rectified by the joint cooperation of physicians, parents and school personnel as to when medication should be administered to support a positive school bus ride.
If provided the opportunity to design the ideal system that maximizes appropriate student behavior on the school bus, a winning partnership combines administrative support, quality driver/monitor training with the use of modern technology and the video camera.
When used appropriately, the video camera is an excellent way to capture unacceptable behaviors, sharing with parents visually recorded information rather than second-handed hearsay accounts. Video information provides a mechanism to review the school bus environment and initiate problem solving strategies to remediate undesirable behaviors.
It is most concerning when school district personnel believe and advocate that the video camera alone is capable of maintaining appropriate bus behavior. The camera is a welcomed support for drivers and monitors, but not a substitute for driver training. School systems using video cameras on school buses should have an approved school board policy as to how the video camera is used, including procedures for length of time tapes are maintained and who has access to tapes and reviewing video information with parents and school district personnel.
School districts should keep in mind potential legal confidentiality and procedural safeguard issues. Observation has demonstrated that some of the most challenging students with long standing behavioral problems are known to walk up to the video camera box and inappropriately verbalize or gesture to test if the camera is filming. This is a clear indication that the video camera alone is not a solution, but a part of a solution in managing behavior. Drivers report that the camera is an effective determinant of less severe behavior problems and annoyances.
Appropriate bus behavior management is a team effort embracing student, parent, school and transportation personnel cooperation utilizing the support of modern technology. Many school systems do not fully utilize educational support personnel such as school psychologists, social workers, counselors and special education individualized education individualized education program (IEP) teams to assist with solutions to resolving behavior problems. Adjustments such as the length of a ride, pick-up and drop-off time can also be used as a solution to complex problems.
In summary, exemplary driver training and the use of the video camera are valuable complementary behavior management tools, but nothing can replace drivers stressing the importance of bus safety to students. Parents, teachers, administrators, students and transportation personnel are all a part of a safe and successful behavior management program.