How to help high schoolers navigate back to school virtually

Winnetonka High School shows off new look
Posted at 11:42 AM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 12:42:13-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Instead of navigating the hallways and classrooms, students are now navigating high school from home.

For school districts across the country, plans for the upcoming school year have been revised many times, but now educators have a plan penciled in.

Kansas City Public Schools, for example, will start 100 percent online.

"We really feared it I think more in the Spring," Dr. Michelle Fitzgerald said. "I think school districts are much more ready now because we've had a lot of time we've done it. And I think we're more ready now than we were in the Spring."

Students will be going into high school for the first time may be feeling the pressure.

"They don't know the teachers, they know some of the students not all of them. So the key will be in the beginning is really building relationships," Fitzgerald said.

Dr. Michelle Fitzgerald is the KCPS Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development.

"I work with a team of coordinators and a team of professional developers. Our job is to make sure that we have the right curriculum. That is to the rigor and essence of the Missouri learning standards, that we help our teachers understand how to take these standards and design instruction," Fitzgerald said. "That's meaningful for all of our kids, regardless of which school they go to, and who they are as a student, and then we make sure that we provide the professional development."

Fitzgerald said building relationships is one of the most important steps when classes start this Fall.

"Really that community building and I encourage every student to really get to know the other kids in their class as well as they can in the distance learning environment," she said.

Fitzgerald also recommends to communicate daily and understand what the expectations are.

"I really encourage the students to really understand what the expectations are from the teacher, how will I turn in assignments, I encourage students right now to reactivate themselves with the technology," she said.

If grades start to decline, reach out for help sooner rather than later.

"We have special education, ELL support, lots of support on the ways that our teachers will be monitoring our students' data," Fitzgerald said. "And making sure that they're pulling those students who need that additional support into additional synchronous sessions, where they can work with that student in either a small group or on a one-on-one basis."

She also recommends students celebrate accomplishments.

"Don't be hard on yourself, but push yourself and advocate for yourself," Fitzgerald said. "That is absolutely crucial in this world right now so that we make sure that they are learning at the rigor, in essence, we want them to be learning, but that they're feeling successful in that process."

It's also recommended students start having a set schedule now of what the day will look like, getting in the habit of waking up and going to sleep at a set time.

Fitzgerald said the more routine students can form now, the easier the transition into the learning environment, even if it is distance learning.

The Rebound Kansas City is our effort is to help metro residents play a role in moving our community forward. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas to via email to and we welcome you to join in the conversation on the Rebound KC Facebook Group.

Whether you're Getting Back to Work after a layoff, need help Making Ends Meet during these trying times or need tips on Managing the Pressure we're all feeling, The Rebound has resources to find help. We'll also make sure local leaders are Doing What's Right to get Kansas City back track after a three-month shutdown.

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