Looking into the “Dark Mirror”: Autoethnographic Reflections on the Impact of COVID-19 and Change Fatigue on the Wellbeing of Enabling Practitioners
The COVID-19 pandemic brought global disruptions to the way universities operate. Online learning abruptly took priority, as the physical campuses in Australian universities became deserted. Staff had to instantly adapt to major changes in work practices, whilst continuing to support students’ engagement and maintain quality teaching and learning. This article discusses how change fatigue during the pandemic impacted the wellbeing of staff working in the enabling education sector. As staff and student wellbeing is interdependent, gaining a better understanding of the influences on staff wellbeing in the post-pandemic era is worth exploring in the context of discussions around student wellbeing and success. Autoethnographical reflections of eight practitioners at six Australian universities working in teaching, leadership and professional practice in enabling education, were thematically analysed. Emergent data reveals the superordinate theme of change fatigue and sub-themes of time, online fatigue, and emotional labour. This article highlights the impact of workload intensification and change fatigue in educators. Our findings demonstrated that practitioners prioritise their workload and students, to the detriment of their own wellbeing. These findings hold relevance for institutions as they look to address student wellbeing and success, and highlights the value of embedding cultures of care and compassion across all levels of the university.