Using Teachbacks with a Train-the-Trainer Approach: Scary or Invaluable?


As I work with clients on large-scale technology implementations, I find the Train-the-Trainer methodology to be very efficient and effective. Consultants such as myself often utilize a Train-the-Trainer program because it is a great way to incorporate team members into the end user’s education. As part of this method, we generally deliver a two to five-day Train-the-Trainer program that covers a standard overview of the materials, information around Adult Learning Theory, and what is, in my opinion, the most important part: teachbacks.

The teachback method is commonly referred to as the “show me” method because the student confirms that they have understood and retained the information by teaching it back to the instructor. Many of my clients have resisted the teachback part of the course, mentioning how “Our people have trained before; they don’t need to waste time doing teachbacks” or even “We don’t want to put anyone in a tough position by making them do teachbacks.”

They are scared to use this proven teaching tool for fear of their putting their people on the spot. My response is always the same: the value that teachbacks provide is not just in giving the team an opportunity to practice the material—it also provides an opportunity to develop a much more consistent program.

Teachbacks are Invaluable!

One of my favorite stories was with a healthcare client who originally resisted including a teachback element within their Train-the-Trainer program. I was able to convince them of the benefit and the value, and they eventually agreed to include it. The comments I received after the teachbacks were so positive and enthusiastic; the team lead was pleasantly surprised.

Team members mentioned how they loved being able to see how “Bob” taught this and how “Lisa” taught that. As a training team, they agreed on using the “Bob” method for one topic and to use the “Lisa” method for another. They also agreed that the program was the most consistent training delivery the organization had ever had, and it generated the best end-user feedback scores in five years.

As a result of the positive feedback and outstanding results, the teachback portion of Train-the-Trainer programs has not only been included, it has been expanded and has proven to be invaluable, quickly becoming part of the organization culture as a standard practice.

To anyone using a Train-the-Trainer methodology, my question is always “Are Train-the-Trainer teachbacks part of your methodology? And if not, why?”

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