“I want to change jobs because I feel really unhappy working in that school. I can’t take it any longer!”


Many of my clients come to me with problems – that are not really what the problem is about.

Here’s a little sample coaching snippet and a key tool that will help you uncover what’s really going on.

The tool is called the ‘5 whys’.

Teacher: “I want to leave my job because I feel really unhappy working in that school. I can’t take it any longer!”


“My principal throws me into any class whenever he feels like it! It makes me feel that what I do isn’t important. I’m more senior than others in the school, it’s not fair. I feel so disrespected!”


“I hate feeling disrespected!”


“In every job I’ve been in to date, I feel I don’t get the respect I deserve”.


“Every time this happens I feel like I’m not good enough”.


“Deep down I fear I’m not good enough”.

Coaching tool – The 5 whys

The 5 whys is a great coaching tool that helps get to the root of what’s really going on. For some of my clients, they feel that they are so unhappy in their job that they what to go to another school or for others, they want to completely change career.

The coaching approach helps to empower them to think about things in a different way. Coaching helps them to identify what is really going on here…


For the teacher above - being put into different classes last minute when it’s not a part of her role deep down makes her feel that she’s not good enough. Sitting with that thought can really help her to come to terms with it. Then she can come up with a range of alternative responses to this feeling of frustration that she has when there’s a big disruption to her weekly timetable.

Am I really good enough?

Firstly, it’s important for her to come up with a list of times that she taught fantastic lessons, she worked well in a team, made a difference to the lives of her students, was the go-to person for advice in her specialist area etc.

What other thoughts are available to me?

Secondly, it may be useful to challenge these thoughts about the reality of the situation – coming up with alternative thoughts like…

  • I’m really helping my principal when I step in to take the school out of a predicament.

  • If I didn’t step in in this case it really would make the situation very difficult indeed. There is nobody else and with Covid, the class can’t be split.

  • I can have a pack of supplementary materials for my SET pupils when emergencies occur like this that they can do independently.

  • Actually other SETs have to step into classes sometimes too.

  • This isn’t ideal but I’m doing my best and that’s the best I can do.

  • I can figure out what’s acceptable for me and explain my position to my principal at a later date – perhaps he doesn’t have an awareness of the amount of time my pupils have actually missed this year.

  • I actually get on great with the staff – I would miss them if I left.

  • If I change some of my thoughts about this situation and remain calm I know I won’t be in SET forever.

Moving forwards

Finally, she creates a plan of action for moving forwards.

She decides in her coaching session that three things she can do to make sure she feel better about the situation are

  • Speak to the class teachers and organise a little pack for pupils or see if there is anyone available (for specific children) to give them a movement break for 5 minutes.

  • Know that I am doing my best and I am good enough and that I am actually really helping out (even if there’s no thank you for it).

  • Request to be put back into the classroom next year, if I’m not, then I know I’m still good enough and I can cope.

By breaking this down, this teacher has processed what is really going on. Then she can decide in a more rational way – whether the best thing to do for her is to leave or to stay.

Sometimes, the right answer is to move, sometimes the answer is to stay. However, it’s always a valuable lesson to uncover what is really going on underneath the surface.

If you resonated with this, drop me an email to hello@orladempseycoaching.ie to learn more about working with me 1-1 and uncover what’s really going on for you.



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