The methodologies which can be used to study schools range from large scale studies designed to establish the validity of school and teacher effectiveness criteria to micro-level auto/biographical accounts which present practitioner views. In this paper we present an outline of the methodology used in a longitudinal study of school change which fits somewhere between these extremes. We then go on to discuss the application of the methodology in two further studies focused on teachers' professional development and technology and educational change in schools. In the original study cycles of case writing by teachers formed the starting point for reflective interpretation by teams of teachers in collaboration with university research colleagues. Successive phases of interpretation led to developing accounts of school change which were validated through collaborative reflection by teams of teachers within and across participating schools and the research team. The subsequent studies also used teachers' writing as a starting point for reflective interpretation and theory building. Each of the three studies represents an attempt to cross the border from describing practice to interpreting and theorising with and about practitioners and our attempts to translate locally contextualised action research into findings which might claim, however tentative, some research validity.