Tim Green may be a science teacher, but one of his favorite metaphors to tell students is about kitchen appliances.
Green was one of seven educators and students who participated in a February storytelling night hosted by Chalkbeat Tennessee, Spillit, and The Knowledge Tree. The stories told centered around school discipline practices, a topic Chalkbeat recently dove into in this special report.
There was one particular young man that Green noticed was becoming increasingly angry. Green saw him becoming more and more disengaged at school, and so he warned the student about “the stove.”
“I told him that I can teach anyone in here how to cook, and say, ‘The stove is hot, don’t touch it,’” Green told the crowd. “But you’re the one who is going to have to touch the stove,” before finding out you’ll get burned in the end.
That student invited Green to a Memphis Grizzlies basketball game years later to tell him that he had remembered that story. The student had run away from home and stopped going to school, but he told Green that he was doing better now. He was back at home and had a job.
The student felt that Green cared about him and his future. “That’s why I wanted to take you out tonight for a Grizzlies game,” he told Green.
“He made me think more and more about those teachers who stopped and took time to tell me about the stove,” said Green, adding that when teachers genuinely take the time to get to know their students and their struggles, it completely changes the way teachers react when students misbehave.
The video was filmed by Gillian Wenhold for The Social Exchange, a pay-as-you-can public relations and content creation firm for nonprofits, and businesses owned by women and people of color. To hear more, watch the video (or read the excerpt) below.
Throughout the years, there were a lot of frustrations coming from him. One day I told him that he was a student that needs to hear about the stove.
He said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I told him that I can teach anyone in here how to cook, and say, “The stove is hot, don’t touch it.” But you’re the one who is going to have to touch the stove.
He looked at me weird, saying, “What are you talking about? You’re talking about cooking and this man teaches science.”
I just left him with those words. Last year, I get a text message [from the student]. “You want to go to the Grizzlies game tonight?”
“All right, come pick me up…”
So, I go pick him up. I ask him what’s been going on with him. He tells me ninth grade was rough, that he ran away from home… “I was thinking about that crazy stuff you were saying about the stove,” the student told me. “You told me I was going to have to touch the stove.”
“Which stove did you touch?” I asked.
“Man, I was in these streets,” he said. “That was the stove for me.”
I said, “So what did you do?”He said he went back home, he got a job, he started doing better. And then he said, “That’s why I wanted to take you out tonight for a Grizzlies game.”