Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2017 – Finger Lakes: Jeremy Tiermini
Jeremy Tiermini is an Associate Professor of Physical Education and Integrated Health Care at Finger Lakes Community College.
As I began my own college education as an athletic training student at Mount Union College, I was often encouraged to pursue a teaching certification, as well, in order to be more marketable. For my first three years, I resisted, clearly telling anyone that would listen that I didn’t want to teach because I did not want to deal with the headaches that are often associated with being a teacher. During my senior year, as I reflected on my undergraduate experience, I relented a little. “If I ever was an educator,” I thought, “I would want to be like the faculty I had here.” I quickly filed those thoughts away and took the steps to advance my career as an athletic trainer.
After a series of jobs that helped improve my athletic training career, I ended up at Finger Lakes Community College, where I had the opportunity to teach for the first time. By the time I was officially hired, I arrived on campus on the Friday before classes started. My department chairs parting words to me on that day: “Here are your books. Have your syllabi ready for Monday.”
I knew nothing of teaching other than my experiences at Mount Union. My goal was to stay one class ahead of my students, as I still had my athletic training responsibilities. I felt overwhelmed for the first few semesters and I was not sure if I made the right choice. Did I really want to spend the rest of my career just trying to stay just one step ahead of my students?
After two years at FLCC, I began to pursue my Master’s Degree. For me, already working 70+ hours and with two young children at home, travelling over an hour to the nearest schools to pursue a Master’s degree that would really benefit my career was not an ideal option. I was fortunate that a colleague at a previous job had introduced me to the idea of online learning.
Completing my degree in the online environment, through the United States Sports Academy, renewed my passion to teach. As an athletic trainer, I was always able to relate the information I was presenting to the athlete and to the coach in a practical, easy to understand manner. However, in the classroom, I found myself falling into the rut of lecturing, as being only one step ahead of my students took its toll on my effectiveness as an educator. The quality of instruction I received from my online degree helped me to develop the first online courses in our department and continues to help me in both my online and face-to-face courses. Thinking as an online faculty member has helped me to modify old assignments and create new educational activities that allow my students to participate in a practical application of the concepts they need to learn.
There are days when I miss the athletic training room, where I could help my students learn about sports medicine through practical applications that supplemented their course work. However, those days are becoming fewer, as I continually work to modify my course delivery to create the learning environment my students deserve, like my professors at Mount Union and the United States Sports Academy did for me.