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Where to start when everything feels urgent

By Sharron Helmke
April 2022
For those who support teachers, it can feel like there are myriad urgent needs, especially when educators are stretched thin and students are struggling, as many are now. How do you prioritize your support, and where do you start? The effort-to-impact matrix is a simple but valuable tool that can help instructional coaches, teacher teams, administrators, and other change agents prioritize their efforts and make strategic choices about which steps to take and when. It allows the user to map out potential strategies and identify how much effort each will take versus how much impact it is likely to make. The matrix is divided into four quadrants. (See figure below.) Quadrant 1 refers to low-effort, low-impact strategies. Strategies in this quadrant don’t require much educator

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Vice President for Professional Services at Learning Forward | + posts

Sharron Helmke is vice president for professional services at Learning Forward. She designs and manages the organization’s consulting service programs that support state, regional, and local organizations in translating their improvement and learning goals into custom-designed high-quality professional learning programs that result in scalable and sustainable change. During her twenty-plus years in education she has served in a variety of roles at the campus and district levels, including teacher, instructional coach, and district-based program administrator. She is an international coaching federation certified professional coach, a Gestalt professional coach, and a trauma-informed care provider, all of which inform her approach to supporting educators. She is the author of numerous professional articles, including “To make a difference for every student, give every new teacher a mentor” in the August 2022 issue of The Learning Journal.


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