Practical Tips for Supporting a VEX GO PLC in Your School

Many schools will see multiple teachers using VEX GO with students in a variety of ways. While VEX GO is designed with a low barrier of entry for teachers to begin using it with minimal preparation, that does not mean that teachers will know everything about implementation from day one. Establishing a Professional Learning Community (PLC) in your school around the use of VEX GO can be a great way to foster a culture of active learning for teachers, just as they are doing for their students.

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A VEX GO PLC can have a kind of “workshop” feel to it, where teachers are actively engaging in planning, sharing facilitating strategies, reflecting on experiences, and offering support and problem solving for one another. The idea is to have teachers engaging in the same kinds of discussion and project based learning that their students are when they use VEX GO.
Here are some ways to support a VEX GO PLC in your school:

  • Give Teachers Time (Don’t make them ask for it) - If you are committed to making STEM learning come alive in your school, that means budgeting time as well as money to the cause. Think creatively about scheduling to give VEX GO teachers shared planning periods during the week, find ways to build PLC time into the school day where you can. Some outside of school time will be necessary for extended discussions and meetings, but try to pair that with in school time where you can.

  • Work the PLC into your PD - Build the time and activities of the PLC into existing professional development requirements, so that teachers can better focus their energy. Allow teachers to commit to the VEX GO PLC as part of their personal professional goals for the year, or enable the Certification Course hours to count toward professional development hour requirements.
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  • Use the VEX Knowledge Base to Support Decisions - For stakeholders that need to be further convinced about using VEX GO in their teaching, the VEX Knowledge Base can offer support for school decision making. The Research section offers information about the design of VEX GO and its research based pedagogy. The VEX GO section offers a wealth of information about using and teaching with VEX GO from tactical technical support to practical facilitation strategies for teachers.

  • Use the Certification Course as a Starting Point - Offer the VEX GO Certification Course for educators to use as a starting point for the PLC during the school year. Whenever possible, teachers should complete this course prior to teaching STEM Labs in their classroom. Not only will this give teachers an overview of teaching with VEX GO, it can ensure that all VEX GO teachers have a common foundation to build from.
    • Time at the start of the school year is always at a premium, so if completing the entire Certification Course is not possible before beginning to use VEX GO with students, the Get Started section of the VEX GO Knowledge Base can give teachers a basic understanding of how to begin.
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  • Encourage Intentional Planning by the PLC - In a VEX GO PLC, teachers can begin their work together by thinking strategically about how to introduce and roll out VEX GO to their students. Having a strategic plan that the whole PLC, or cohort groups within the PLC, are comfortable with, sets up students and teachers to be successful from the start. Using PLC meeting time to ask questions, walk through routines, demo lesson facilitation, or talk through student groupings can make the in-class introduction and framing of VEX GO for students go more smoothly.

  • Be Strategic about Teacher Partnerships - Different teachers will encounter VEX GO from different places. New teachers may be excited to use new technology, while veteran teachers may be resistant. Work with the PLC teachers to create partnerships and cohort groups that maximize support and are mutually beneficial for all members. For instance, pairing a young tech-savvy teacher with a group of older teachers where the main goal is to help the older teachers use the technology, is not going to help the young teacher develop classroom facilitation skills. Instead, create a group with teachers with mixed levels of experience and expertise in teaching and technology, so that they can learn about all facets of STEM teaching - not just focus on logistics.

  • Promote Flexibility and Reward Risk Taking - Using a new piece of curriculum, no matter how exciting, is also scary to many teachers because they are afraid of “failing” while teaching a class. Use the PLC as a safe place to learn from and with other teachers, to think together about how to move forward after a perceived “failure”, and to celebrate the successes that emerge from intentional risk taking. Administrators involved in the PLC should establish themselves as active learners alongside the teachers, and should always approach participation from a place of support rather than judgment.


  • Find Time for Informal Observations - Supporting teachers to be able to be in one another’s classrooms while VEX GO is being used can be tremendously useful. In these informal observations, teachers can see how others are facilitating lessons, share tips for keeping students on task, or strategize around a shared question. Encourage your VEX GO teachers to be present for each other outside of PLC meetings, and do what you can to find times during the day to support that to happen.
    • If being physically present isn’t possible, encourage teachers to video their classes and share those videos during PLC meetings or within teaching partnerships.
  • Share Successes with the School Community - Invite the PLC to share successes and learning with the larger school community during faculty meetings, in newsletters, or through hallway documentation or bulletin boards. Making their successes visible reinforces the effort PLC teachers are putting forth, and makes teacher and student learning visible for all involved.

At heart, using VEX GO in your school, in any capacity, is meant to bring STEM learning to life and to help promote a culture of collaboration and creativity through hands-on learning for students and teachers. Finding ways to actively encourage teachers’ learning alongside their students will enable VEX GO to reach its full potential in your school.