Ask-a-Freelancer: Matt Klausmeier

ask-a-freelancer Oct 01, 2021

What do you do?

I help schools and other educational agencies use data. Yes, that’s broad and fairly expansive! The partnerships I have with schools, and our shared objectives, do look different. Often, I help administrators and teachers collect, analyze, and act on data from student assessments, ensuring we understand what students know and don’t know. Throughout my work, I aim to facilitate and actualize the ideas and best practices schools have to maximize the potential of their students.

What does an average day look like for you?

At the moment, it’s a lot of Zooming! But, we’re getting back to in-person meetings in schools (fingers crossed). I’m hoping to get back to a schedule that’s one-third in-person meetings (ideally with teachers and district staff) and two-thirds working from home (allowing for the flexibilities we’ve all embraced during the pandemic). A typical day for me includes meetings I’m attending or facilitating paired with “head-down” analysis or development of tools for my clients.

How did you get here?

I’ve worked in education with a data focus for my whole career. Prior to starting my consulting three years ago, I worked for a firm in New York that produced assessments and then, after coming to Colorado, I supported rural school districts in data use and strategy. The skills and experience I acquired in my previous jobs, most notably a greater awareness of how schools operate and how the utility of data can be maximized, is invaluable in my current work.

What mistakes did you make along the way that others should avoid? 

Earlier, I mentioned the expansiveness of my work. It’s not unusual for me to move through multiple projects in the span of a few hours, varying in their scope of work (from project management to survey design to data visualization). While this approach is beneficial in many ways, so I’m not sure I would categorize it as a “mistake,” sometimes it feels sporadic and unstrategic. As I continue to consult, I’m thinking more about where I want to focus my work.

If you could go back, what advice would you give yourself when you first started out?

As an independent consultant, it’s easy to feel isolated and solely responsible for a project. And, yes, I am usually an external person with a specialized role, and I want to own and execute my projects to the highest degree. That said, I cherish and rely on being a member of my client teams. Getting to know my colleagues, and more about their roles, brings my work to life. Take the time to build relationships with your clients and learn more about their organizational goals and priorities.

What are your favorite platforms/tools?

It’s probably obvious to say Google Docs and Sheets, huh? I mean, we’ve been using those tools daily for 10+ years now. But, I continue to value the sharing and collaborative nature of these tools. I use Google Docs for planning and brainstorming, and rely on Google Sheets for data tracking and visualizations. Other tools include Evernote (for collecting resources, references, and articles related to my work) and Trello (for maintaining my project to-dos and ideas).

How can people find out more about you?  

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