Opinion
Education Teacher Leaders Network

Learning to Live With Bus Duty

By Laura Reasoner Jones — March 27, 2007 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It’s 10 degrees above zero in lovely Northern Virginia, with a wind chill factor of 5 below. I stand in the school crosswalk directing children and parents to the snow-covered sidewalk that leads from the nearby apartments. It is my first-ever day of bus duty, and I am hatless in my old blue coat. I shiver for 30 minutes while the kids and parents straggle into school. My glasses are frozen to my face, and I can hardly feel my fingers to open my lip balm.

As part of a new partnership, teachermagazine.org is publishing this regular column by members of the Teacher Leaders Network, a professional community of accomplished educators dedicated to sharing ideas and expanding the influence of teachers.

I dodge 18 buses and stop 17 cars from coming into the parking lot. I wonder where my 5th grade patrols are. They’re no fools—I’m sure their mothers told them it was too cold to be on patrol. Where is my OWN mother when I need her?

I come from a long line of crossing guards and patrols. My mother was the crossing guard at our elementary school for years when we were young. She received a commendation from the Indianapolis Public School System when she decided to take a job that paid more than $2.00 an hour and didn’t give her nightmares about children being hit by cars.

As the last bus disgorges its load, I look around and realize there are no other teachers or administrators outside on this frigid day. I guess they are smart enough to do their duty assignments in the building as much as possible. I hurry to the nearest school entrance and find that there has been another security alert and that the exterior doors have been locked. By the time I make it around to the one front door that is open, I am shaking so hard I am not sure I can ever get warm again. I stop in the Parent Center for their always-simmering coffee, and find myself spilling the drink because I cannot stop shivering.

I walk down the hall to my computer lab, open up my laptop, and surf straight to the Land’s End Web site. I don’t care how much it costs or what else I should be doing—I am buying a warm coat now. In the “overstocks,” I find a long parka with a guarantee of warmth down to 20 below. It has a hood and a thousand pockets and won’t make me look like the Michelin Man. This is the parka for me. But, oh dear—there are only two colors left: white—never!—and, oh dear again—magenta. Oh, well, who cares? At least I’ll be warm and the buses will certainly see me. I pay for rush shipping and sigh in relief. Only a few more days to freeze.

When I started at my new school in December, I walked the halls freely between 8:45 and 9:20 a.m. or at the end of the day, and thought, “My dutyless days are numbered. They are going to notice me soon, and then it will all be over.” Two months later, they did.

All my professional life I have dreaded bus duty. I have spent most of my 30-plus years of teaching in an early childhood program, where we worked out of a central office with no PTA, no cafeteria food, and no duties. When we in the preschool special education program would complain about the onerous duties of our jobs—cockroach-filled apartments, neglected children, IEPs, etc.,—we would always conclude that we still had it good, because at least we didn’t have to do bus duty. Three short months ago, in my previous job as a teacher-leader for a district technology program, I was doing business lunches with the head of AOL@school and the national education manager for Intel. And now I do bus duty. How the mighty have fallen!

Three frozen duty days later, I get home to find that my daughter has come by and left the Land’s End box in a prominent place with a big smiley-face sticky note—“Your parka is here!” The whole family is in on this. I try it on. Oh dear—it is definitely magenta. And it is huge. I am thinking raspberry Dreamsicle. ...

I wear my new coat Friday and revel in the warmth. I also begin to enjoy the actual duty. I realize that I have the opportunity to smile and speak to more than one hundred parents and children who walk to and from school daily. I can wish them a good morning or a good night, and can make some connections that are hard to accomplish when all I do is teach in the computer lab.

I begin to joke with the parents and kids, and I start to enjoy the power of the lifted mitten—I can stop a 1.5-ton car with the wave of my hand. I can yell “Walk” and the kids actually stop running. As hard as this transition has been, I am now contributing to this school.

Real teachers do bus duty.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP