This week was a wild one!
I started a new route with 160 new students and six new schools. My previous route was nearly a dream. Two schools. The first group was for middle schoolers. The second was for K-6. I had an excellent rapport with both groups. The curveball was it only took four hours per day. Now, that charters were all but dried up, the extra income was about to cease. I needed to earn more hours. No longer willing to let any money set on the table I bid for three routes hoping I would win one of them.
It turns out I was awarded one of the most notorious routes in Boise.
This route has had four or five bus drivers since September. Many drivers warned me not to bid on it. I knew it must be a challenging route as many drivers had crossed their names off the bid sheet. Two veteran drivers suggested I wait for a more comfortable route. I crossed my name off. I needed the extra hours but decided to bid on the next week’s available routes. My name was called over the radio to check in with dispatch after my route. Surprise, they awarded me the route anyway!
Ok, now I was challenged! I hesitantly accepted the route.
Bidding farewell was sad. I had been driving this route for two years. I knew their personalities. My younger elementary students showered me with hugs, gifts, and precious handwritten notes. They were asking me when I was coming back. I received a few farewells, and trinkets from the older Middle School students.
My first morning run on the new route was uneventful. The afternoon was starkly different. I earned THREE schools back to back. Each busload was filled with over 40 students and a noise level of 10 or higher. I did not know any of their names and they had not had any expectations set on them. It was Kayos! The scene is something you would find in a comedy movie. The saving grace was I was mentally ready for them and the challenges. 50% of each bus load was filled with ELL, English Language Learners. They represent a diverse group of refugee students from around the world.
I handled the situation with firmness and conviction! I was a woman standing in her power! A force to be recognized. When the students REFUSED to give their names, I stayed cool. I involved the schools. The students were given seat assignments which many of them got to choose. With Pride, I can say miles of ground has been achieved! With the support of the schools, my students understand the new Sheriff in town means business.
As one eight grade student was getting off, he stopped and said he was going to report me for the students being so loud. Puzzled, I said, “ ok.” The second time he said this, I said, “I am open to any suggestions you may have, please put them in writing, and I will look at them.” The third time, I was proud of the semi-quiet bus. It was now a noise level of five. As he got off and complained the bus was too loud, I just said, “hey buddy I am working on it.”
Nine days on the new route and the three groups of students have settled down! I am amazed! Truly amazed. Part of it, I believe is they were ready for order. All of us love order and calmness.
Now, we can start having fun. The younger ones anyway. In my first week, I received three hand-drawn notes, a tub of homemade cookies, and many smiling faces. One middle school student asked if I was homeschooled as a child. I found this to be an interesting question. Unfortunately, I do not know which student asked this. One day I will find out and ask him how he came up with such a question. Two middle school students were suspended from my bus for three days. On Friday, the other students were commenting on how pleasant it was to be on a quiet bus.
Give more, get more!