Classroom practice is at the heart of schooling. As we have previously argued, what teachers do in their classrooms matters. When asked to describe what this is, teachers' accounts are usually personalised, contextualised and shaped by their professional experiences. This is not surprising, given the isolated nature of classroom practice, but it does limit what can be said in more general and collective terms about what goes on in classrooms, and consequently how these practices may be influenced. Hence, the heart of schooling most often remains hidden and cloaked in personal experiences layered by the particularities of time, location and relationships. As a consequence, most attempts to describe what happens in classrooms founder in the shallows of impression and superficial recollection. A key purpose of this chapter, then, is to elaborate the language of productive pedagogies that will serve as a framework for describing some of the richness, complexity and detail of classroom experiences from a research base.
The difficulties associated with influencing classroom practice should not be underestimated. Smylie and Perry (1998) note, in their review of a selection of major restructuring programs mainly to do with reorganisation, that, while restructuring promoted some change at the classroom level, the focus of change tended to be on making schools more