Understanding the Training of Trainers Model

The Training of Trainers (ToT) model pdf icon[PDF -712 KB] is intended to engage master trainers in coaching new trainers that are less experienced with a particular topic or skill, or with training overall. A ToT workshop can build a pool of competent instructors who can then teach the material to other people. Instead of having just one trainer who teaches a course for a long time, there are multiple trainers teaching the same course at the same time in the ToT model, thus creating a broader reach; sustainability; and is much more cost and time efficient. This means a new participant typically gets to watch an experienced trainer teach, complete the exercises, and then practice teaching segments to other participants. The master trainer and trainer participants should use the CDC Professional Development (PD) Best Practices.

Training of Trainers Model illustration


The main goal of the ToT model is to prepare instructors to present information effectively, respond to participant questions, and lead activities that reinforce learning. Other goals include ensuring that trainers can:

  • Direct participants to supplementary resources and reference materials.
  • Lead discussions.
  • Listen effectively.
  • Make accurate observations.
  • Help participants link the training to their jobs.

Trainer participants also learn the importance of maintaining eye contact, presenting a positive attitude, speaking in a clear voice, gesturing appropriately, and maintaining interest and dissipating confusion.

As a result of attending a ToT, participants will be able to:

  • Apply current practices in delivering a training on a selected evidence-based program.
  • Deliver proven facilitative skills to promote learner engagement, reflective practice, critical thinking, and skill acquisition.
  • Show mastery in delivering key training strategies commonly used; such as, brainstorming, processing/process checks, roleplaying, and practice sessions.
  • Use appropriate levels of intervention when managing difficult training situations, including disruptive learner behaviors.
  • Initiate a personal plan of action to strengthen their training and facilitation skill.

When designing a ToT, it is necessary to allow enough time to ensure the effective transfer of learning. Consider the type and number of topics when determining how much time a training session needs, and include the following elements:

  • Pre-assessment.
  • Pre-work.
  • Trainer and participant agenda.
  • Facilitation manual.
  • Modeling of the skills and topic to be delivered.
  • Adult learning principles.
  • Skill practice and feedback.
  • Action planning.
  • Planned follow-up support.

  • Pre-assessment—identifies pre-training knowledge, skills, and interest of the trainer participants to determine or inform the training design.
  • Pre-work—provides trainer participants with the knowledge and background needed before the actual ToT session.
  • Adult learning principles—provide insight into how adults learn, and can help instructors be more effective in their practice and more responsive to the needs of the learners they serve.
  • Skill practice and feedback—provides opportunities for the practice of selected training activities or content by asking participants to present to other participants. Participants then provide feedback regarding the practice.
  • Action planning—takes participants through the process of creating a plan outlining the sequence of steps that must be taken or activities that must be performed well for a strategy to succeed.
  • Planned follow-up support—provides completed, continued, and targeted follow-up support once a professional development event has been completed to strengthen the knowledge and skill level of participants. Follow-up support is intended to strengthen the transfer of learned strategies or skills so they will be retained and applied effectively.

To be effective in achieving intended outcomes, prospective ToT participants must be highly qualified, seasoned trainers who have demonstrated the following:

  • An advanced skill level in training and facilitation skills and engagement of adult learners.
  • Success in the field and champions for the topic area.
  • Completion of the entire training workshop.
  • Ability to deliver the training when needed (flexible; able to travel).