Date Approved

6-29-2009

Embargo Period

3-18-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Teaching

Department

Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education

College

College of Education

First Advisor

Rodríguez, Yvonne E. González

Subject(s)

Classroom management--New Jersey; School discipline--New Jersey

Disciplines

Junior High, Intermediate, Middle School Education and Teaching

Abstract

As the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 increased academic pressure on students, the Guns Free Schools Act of 1994 required school districts to implement zero tolerance discipline policies that called for expulsion of students who bring weapons to school or commit drug offenses on school property. The zero tolerance policy forced students to deal with punishments and requirements that many educators feel are unevenly meted out (National Association of School Psychologists, 2008). This resulted is a stressful climate for students.

The Four Agreements are part of an esoteric Toltec philosophy that emphasizes stress-free interpersonal interactions (Ruiz, 1997). By enabling students to use this philosophy as an intrinsic part of their school interactions, this qualitative action research study sought to improve the classroom behavior and enhance classroom interactions of a small sample of six students in a medium-sized New Jersey middle school, observing how the Four Agreements affected their behavior over the course of eleven weeks. Ultimately, inadequate data was gathered to make a decisive conclusion, due to suboptimal levels of student participation. Recommendations for future studies in this vein include using more time (ideally a full school year) to observe the effects of the Four Agreements on student behavior.

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