The training of trainers model seeks to engage master instructors in coaching new, less experienced instructors with a particular topic or skill. The training of trainers (ToT) model is a framework used by master instructors to train new instructors, enabling them to subsequently train other people in their organization.
Understanding the training of trainers model
As part of a teaching workshop, the ToT model can be used to build a pool of competent instructors who are then able to pass on their knowledge to other people.
Instead of having one trainer teaching a large group of people, training can be disseminated much more efficiently by a group of trainers working simultaneously.
This encourages personal and professional growth in addition to organizational development.
The ToT model is used predominantly in the healthcare industry, though it has been adapted to other fields.
In the United States, the model was used to teach civic engagement to students, staff, and faculty and also educate them in after-school nutrition.
ToT has also been used to teach ethics courses in the Dutch military and in Malaysia to teach outcome-based teaching and learning.
The five basic elements of the training of trainers model
There are five basic elements to the ToT model, with each playing a key role in shaping the structure and strategy of the training process.
The five elements include:
ToT training tends to focus on the sharing of ideas and experiences over the transfer of information or expertise.
The model acknowledges that while everyone can be taught effective teaching techniques, not everyone can successfully apply these techniques to become a great teacher.
Reflective and best practices exercises can be used to develop the training potential of new instructors.
Or the structures and processes that enable training to cascade through an organization.
These are organized by the trainer and include developing a course outline, understanding trainee needs, preparing subject matter, assessing the impact of training, and performing necessary follow-up work.
Perhaps most importantly, trainers need to give trainees time to develop and build their skills around existing job commitments.
Since the ultimate goal of the ToT model is to produce future trainers, the course content should be practical, interactive, problem-solving, and trainee-oriented.
To maximize course effectiveness, it is helpful for the trainer to design the course content based on background information about each trainee.
In other words, what are their particular characteristics, strengths, or weaknesses?
The course itself needs to utilize diverse teaching materials and expert input from subject matter specialists and fellow professional colleagues.
Simple tasks should be addressed at the beginning of the course.
So too should broad concepts and other terms applicable throughout.
Lastly, difficult concepts should only be introduced incrementally to ensure trainees do not become overwhelmed.
The correct training approach encourages a positive and productive learning experience for the trainees.
Here, there are two generally accepted approaches: instructional and group participation.
Instructional courses are similar in style to university lectures, while group participation incorporates collective discussion, fieldwork, study tours, and workshops.
For trainers, utilizing both during course design is ideal.
Characteristics of a good trainer
As noted earlier, not everyone will be well suited to training other people. With that said, here are a few characteristics of a good trainer:
The trainer must be well respected by their peers and colleagues within the organization.
Respect commands trust and increases trainee engagement.
An obvious characteristic, but one worth mentioning.
Trainers must possess robust public speaking skills and present course material confidently and concisely.
Empathy and flexibility
The best trainers recognize the individual needs of their students and adapt instructional methods accordingly.
Importantly, the trainer must also be able to make time in their schedule to give students the attention they deserve.
Open to feedback
Trainers must also be open to receiving feedback and reflective about their methods.
This is particularly true if they are an expert in the subject matter and have strong views about what they are teaching.
Training the trainer example
In a 2016 study published in the academic journal Health Promotion International, researchers looked at the ways in which the ToT model was used in Ireland’s healthcare system.
The study was undertaken in response to an increased focus on the ill-health, mortality, and premature death of men (especially those from a lower socio-economic background).
While specific men’s health policies had been established in a few countries, there was still a palpable need for policy to be developed by healthcare providers who considered men problematic to treat.
Some providers failed to understand the health needs of men and develop appropriate systems, while others did not know how to effectively reach men in any case.
To increase the likelihood of successful health interventions for men, the importance of initial (and ongoing) training of healthcare practitioners was deemed essential.
The ENGAGE program
To train healthcare experts on how to adopt gender-sensitive work practices, Ireland’s government recommended the institution of dedicated men’s health training.
Known as ENGAGE, the program is an intensive 1-day course created by the statutory, community, and academic sectors.
Students take the course to learn the best practices related to properly engaging men in health and social services to address the current deficit in men’s care and improve patient outcomes.
To encourage healthcare practitioners to adopt gender-sensitive behaviors, authorities relied on the ToT model of delivery.
Individuals from key organizations were first recruited to become trainers of the ENGAGE program, with each person committing to deliver at least three training sessions.
Between 2012 and 2014, a total of 57 trainers were trained with 62 training events attended by 812 professionals conducted by September 2015.
How was the ToT model and ENGAGE program developed and implemented?
The ToT model and ENGAGE program were developed, delivered, and maintained by a team of seven individuals.
These were from four organizations that partnered to create the program itself with several roles established:
- A facilitator from each organization who contributed to course content.
- Editors to moderate the online forum where training material was discussed.
- A sole coordinator who was responsible for communicating with the “class”, and
- A researcher to lead an outcomes evaluation.
Once the roles were filled, the ENGAGE program was rolled out over a 2-year period to different healthcare service providers.
Training content and methodologies were adapted and refined according to user feedback and facilitator reflections.
The five trainer units included:
- An overview of men’s health, gender, and social determinants of health.
- Practitioner support strategies.
- Guidance for brief interventions with men.
- Useful strategies for engaging with men, and
- Mechanisms for men’s development groups and sustained engagement.
Using a variety of interactive and experiential techniques, trainers were able to connect with the subject matter and relate to their patients on a more personal level.
Upon successful completion of the ToT framework, trainers were handed a folder that contained detailed session plans, audio-visual aids, promotional flyers, and other handouts.
Mentoring and technical assistance were also offered post-training with biannual refresher courses and an online information repository that was continually updated.
- The training of trainers (ToT) model is a framework used by master instructors to train new instructors, enabling them to subsequently train other people in their organization.
- The training of trainers model has five basic elements, with each shaping training course content and strategy: training goal, resources, target group, training course, and training approach.
- The training of trainers model acknowledges that not everyone will be suited to training others. Generally speaking, trainers must possess good communication skills and adequate subject knowledge. They must also be well respected by their peers and open to feedback.
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