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Students come to school early to get a leg-up on day’s math

Three mornings a week, about 10 students show up nearly an hour early to school at Sumas Elementary. On purpose. To do extra schools. This group of students eagerly awaits the chance to do extra math work. By their choice.

A special pre-teach class run by fifth-grade teacher Sarah Condreay gives these students a chance to learn the day’s math lesson before they get it in class. “We learn the day’s lesson with the same numbers,” Condreay says. “They get it two times. Anything you get to learn twice you’ll be better at. They don’t have to come in the morning, but they still do.”

The students know the difference it gives them. “We are learning the lessons and it gives us confidence,” says Elizabeth, a fifth-grade student. “It works.”

Each of the students in the pre-teach group has already grown a level on their unit assessments. And they participate more in the school-day class, feeling confident because they have a better grasp on the concepts and strategies.

“I raise my hand,” says Natalie, another student, who at the start of the year wouldn’t even speak in math class. Now she participates, raises her hand, even.

During the morning pre-teach, Condreay teaches the lesson just as she will later in the day to the two fifth-grade classes. The pre-teach group has a mix of students from the two fifth-grade classrooms at Sumas Elementary, both classes have about 20 students.

“I think it is a combination of they like the extra time in here because it is a small group and it makes them so much more confident in class,” Condreay says. “At the beginning of the year most of these kids were not talking. In class, raising their hand was scary. Over time, as they have been coming here and getting more comfortable, they are raising their hand more and participating more.”

It starts with the morning group. When a question gets asked by Condreay, more hands shoot up instantly than those that don’t. Even those not confident immediately soon become comfortable talking. The group has a good rapport, having fun together and enjoying the confidence that comes with learning.  

“I like learning the stuff before (class) and I like being with Ms. Condreay,” Elizabeth says. And that all adds up to a powerful benefit for a group of students growing in confidence.