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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

How to Build an Internal Train-the-Trainer Model

Updated: Jun 9, 2023



Do you have staff, volunteers, board members, community leaders, employees and partner organizations that you train and facilitate? Sometimes it can be beneficial to build out an internal train-the-trainer model at your organization if you have identified this as a need.


Determine the end goal: What is the purpose and end goal of the internal train the trainer model? Do you have volunteers, employees and board members to train? Are you trying to share technical skills with volunteer, employees and board members? Be clear about the goal of your train the trainer model and who you want to develop as internal trainers within your organization. Identifying the why and end goal is important so that everyone involved understands the purpose.

Design the curriculum: What frameworks or methodologies will you use to design the curriculum? What will the training or workshop include in terms of course materials? Are you designing an internal training for volunteers or staff? Do you have instructional designers within your organization who have the capacity to design curriculum? Sometimes, it can ease the workload of staff to contract out curriculum design to an outside instructional designer who can provide support to your organization.

Some of our favorite methodologies and frameworks for curriculum design as it relates to adults include:

  • The ADDIE model of instructional design

  • Andragogy the science of adult learning discussed and theorized by Malcolm Knowles

  • Bloom’s Taxonomy: A theory that reviews the process of learning and how to design a course so that participants experience dynamic design

  • Design Thinking: A helpful model to think about issues to explore that you want to design, build out and test

  • Appreciative Inquiry: A great framework to reflect on the past to prepare for the future

Some of our favorite books include:

  • The Adult Learner by Malcolm Knowles

  • Online Teaching At Its Best: Merging Instructional Design with Teaching and Learning Research by Linda Nilson and Ludwika Goodson

  • Teaching to Transgress by Bell Hooks

  • Ladson-Billings, G. (Summer, 1995). “But That’s Just Good Teaching! The Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.” Theory into Practice, Vol. 34, No.3, pp.159-165.

  • Tips & Tools: The Art of Experiential Group Facilitation by Jennifer Stanchfield


Identify Internal Trainers: Once your curriculum is developed, who within your team will you identify as a trainer or facilitator? Skills of a great trainer include the following:

  • Ability to listen and adapt to an audience

  • Strong communication skills

  • Subject matter expertise

  • Availability and time

  • Desire to train and facilitate

Great trainers also know how to support and manage participants in the moment. This may include dealing with challenging situations, maintaining energy level and handling difficult conversations among participants. It is important to ask and identify potential internal trainers before you embark on a process. Do you have staff that can support a train the trainer model at your organization?

Do you want more information about becoming a trainer, how to develop your skills as a trainer, how to design activities, design inclusive curriculum and ways to build out a train the trainer course? Check out our train the trainer workshop: www.nonprofitlearninglab.org/onlinettt. How more questions? Reach out to us at info@nonprofitlearninglab.org


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