Every week, EPIC Superintendent Bart Banfield explores topics related to education, learning, leadership and more. Be sure to check back each week for the latest.

Cycle of Inquiry

This week has been one of reflection for me. 

Once in a while, an opportunity comes along that changes the course and trajectory of your life, challenging you and your abilities. For me, that opportunity came six months ago when I became superintendent of EPIC Charter Schools. 

While I’d been a brick-and-mortar school district superintendent before, taking the reins of what is now the largest virtual charter school system in the state presented a set of unique challenges. It has been a test of my abilities that has taught me much about myself and about the diverse and varied needs of our state’s students and teachers. 

Before you know it, January 21st will be here and the semester will come to an end. As an educator, I have always used this time to reflect on what went right and what didn’t. It’s called the Cycle of Inquiry and it’s a useful assessment tool in virtually any setting. It’s something I use in both my professional and personal development. It helps me maintain a balanced approach to calculating successes and failures.

The first step in the cycle is to set a goal. Personally, I try to set goals that, at least at the time, seem just slightly out of my reach. This forces me to push myself and, as such, grow as a person. Secondly, I put a plan in place to achieve the goal I’ve set, followed by taking action to put the plan into motion. Assessment is the next phase and allows me the opportunity to take inventory of the elements of my action plan that may or may not be working. The final stage in the cycle is reflecting and adjusting. Taking time to ruminate and make any course corrections is essential.

Using this process allows me to stay engaged in whatever task I’m doing. It allows me to collect and interpret information so I can take the next step. Also, I am able to step back from what I’m working on, look at it pragmatically and learn from my mistakes.

As 2019 begins to wind down, I hope you take the time for a thoughtful look at the processes in your life. I know, for me, doing so has helped me become a stronger leader, a better educator and a more analytical thinker.


Dare Greatly,