Last spring I asked over 400 drivers what strategies they felt were most effective in managing student behavior on the bus. I was expecting to hear ideas that were unique to each driver’s style, but the answers were overwhelmingly similar. The top 5 suggestions included greeting students by name, building a rapport with each student, assigned seating, treating students with respect, and being consistent with consequences. Let’s take a minute to consider the advantages of one of the oldest tools in the student management toolbox, assigned seating.
Assigning seats can be effective for students of all ages, and can easily be modified to fit the changing discipline needs on your bus. Many drivers let their students choose where they will sit, and then use assigned seats as a bargaining chip if inappropriate behavior becomes an issue. Others have found success with seating students according to grade level, gender, or reserving assigned seats for repeat offenders.
Having assigned seats also takes a great deal of the guesswork out of situations involving vandalism to the bus seats. I’m sure many of you can remember instances when you have spent the better part of the day acting as Columbo, trying to figure out who was sitting in a damaged seat, and who might have witnessed the action from a nearby seat. It seems that assigning seats not only helps us manage student behavior, but our time as well!
In conclusion, my hope is for every school bus to have an atmosphere that welcomes all students, and protects all students! Students who are younger and those who are typically isolated are especially vulnerable to bullying. Assigned seats can offer some protection for these students and at the same time, foster an increased sense belonging!