This paper is an account of teacher educator perceptions of the take-up by beginning teachers of the values and practices advocated in pre-service education. Methodologically grounded in a critical ethnographic account, two teacher educator/researchers retell their understanding of the one-month experience as middle school classroom teachers in an allocated school. The paper examines the consequences of what counts as professional knowledge in the eyes of pre-service and beginning teachers and the implications of the encounter for the role of teacher educators in preservice preparation. The purpose of the research is to consider the well-researched issue of the rejection of academic training (to greater or lesser extents) that is experienced by very many preservice and beginning teachers at some stage after experience in schools. As an exemplary colleague teacher said to us as we negotiated our participation in the school: "I do lots of things that the University would not approve of". Our argument is that teacher education needs the kind of participatory inquiry represented by the undertaking and methodology of this project. The paper is the 'primary record' (Carspecken 1996) of the research and works to open the next phase, the dialogical stage of the research process.