A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School

Fran de la Torre-Shu

Fran de la Torre-Shu is an Upper School Learning Support Specialist at Westtown School. Previously, she served as the Learning Support Specialist at the Academy of Notre Dame for grades 6-12 where she also coached swimming. Her teaching career began as a Special Education Teacher in Philadelphia public charter schools, but she holds Pennsylvania certification as a Reading Specialist, Special Educator, English Language Arts 6-9, and Math 6-9. She earned her BA in Classical Studies and MSEd in Language and Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania. She also earned a MSEd in Special Education from Saint Joseph's University and is currently working towards a certification in English as a Second Language. Post-secondary transition planning is also an area of interest.

Recent Posts

Parenting in the New Classroom

Posted by Fran de la Torre-Shu on January 14, 2021

One year ago, teachers were in classrooms and parents were not. Now, with virtual or hybrid learning, parents and caregivers are participating in a much more material way with students’ education. The classroom is now the dining room, the bedroom, or some other space at home. This unexpected blending of roles is not simple to navigate. Considering the circumstances of this school year and the reason for all of the adjustments we are making, it may be helpful to have a bank of ways to respond to things that are happening at home from a learning specialist’s perspective. Here are some common situations that you might encounter.

If your student is struggling with an assignment or task:

Instead of:


Did you read the directions?

Can you explain the assignment to me?

Keep trying/keep working on it.

Take a break and work on something else. You can go back to it later.

Why didn’t you ask your teacher for help?

Is there a teacher who has office hours now who can help? 


Can you rewatch the class recording where the teacher explains it?

When a student is experiencing difficulty, we want to do whatever we can to foster their endurance for hard work and their desire to persist, and to empower them to seek a productive path. Asking the student to explain the assignment forces them to engage in the learning cycle by using metacognition to teach another person about the task. This exercise either helps the student to plan the next step or demonstrates a need to revisit prior learning or materials.

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Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens, Communication and Children