What if the principal rode the bus?

During my third year of teaching, I got an email with a sign up sheet for all the different bus routes during the first few weeks of the school year. It was a bit overwhelming — on top of lesson planning and adjusting to my new schedule (an extended school day that was two hours longer than my previous day), I now needed to ride the bus with our students during the first few weeks of school. All the teachers —and the principal—would ride the bus with students, so I signed up and took the hour long bus ride with our students one Tuesday afternoon in August, where I provided an extra presence to remind students that the expectations in the classroom didn’t end the second students walked out of the school doors.

Recently, I talked to a parent about what small things they thought schools and districts could be doing to increase parent engagement and build trust among internal and external stakeholders. We talked a little bit about the effect of the school principal riding the bus with students. “It’s so impactful,” she told me. “It’s super powerful and low lift…  and [imagine] the confidence I would have in allowing my kids to ride the bus if the principal every now and then just popped on and rode the bus?”

As most parents know, it can be scary and vulnerable to send your children off to school, especially when that involves getting on the bus twice a day instead of driving or walking your kids to school.

In many ways, a school principal —or in my case, both teachers and principals—riding the bus can demonstrate a different type of commitment to both students and families.

The school day doesn’t end when students walk out the door at school — teachers and leaders are ensuring the safety and well being of your child from the moment they get to school to the moment they get home. And that is a powerful way to build trust.