About the authors


Adam Lefstein and Julia Snell collaborated on the ESRC-funded Towards Dialogue project, which forms the basis for the materials analysed in the book.   The project was rated “outstanding” by the Economic and Social Research Council, and relevant findings have been published in leading scientific journals such as Reading Research Quarterly, the British Educational Research Journal and Teaching and Teacher Education.


adam  Adam Lefstein      

I am a Senior Lecturer in Education at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.  Previously I worked at the Institute of Education, University of London, where I carried out the research reported in Better than Best Practice, and at Oxford University and King’s College London.  My research and teaching focus on pedagogy, classroom interaction, teacher development and educational policy and politics.  I’m particularly interested in the intersection between research and professional practice, and how to conduct research that is meaningful, rigorous and helpful for teachers. Currently, I am working on two major projects: the first explores the relationship between culture, policy and pedagogy in Israeli primary schools, and seeks to feed findings back to teachers, school leaders and policy-makers in an effort to improve practice.  The second looks at the teacher learning and the development of professional vision in video-based teacher professional development activities.  Prior to embarking on my current career in the academy I worked as a teacher and facilitator of teacher learning at the Branco Weiss Institute in Jerusalem, where I also directed the Community of Thinking programme.


julia  Julia Snell

I am currently a Lecturer in Sociolinguistics in the Department of Education & Professional Studies at King’s College London. Before this I was a researcher at the Institute of Education, University of London, which is where I was fortunate enough to work with Adam on the research reported in Better than Best Practice. Originally trained in linguistics, my research and teaching have focused on language variation and identity (especially social class), regional and social dialectology, language attitudes and ideologies, and classroom interaction and dialogic pedagogy. Increasingly I work at the interface between sociolinguistics and education. For example, my PhD research investigated how and to what extent children from two socially differentiated primary schools in Teesside, north-east England, used the resources of their local dialect to construct identities, negotiate social hierarchies and manage their relationships with each other and with their teachers. I have since used findings from this study to challenge the negative and uninformed views about working-class children and non-standard English that are regaining currency in debates about language, class and educational failure. As well publishing my findings in academic journals, such as Language and Education and Journal of Sociolinguistics, I have also contributed to media debates (see here for examples).


Guest Commentators

In addition to our own analyses, we have included in the book 17 critical commentaries written by local and international education professionals and scholars.  Among the commentators are one of the teachers who appears in the book, the Headteacher of the school, the poet whose work is discussed by the pupils and teacher in one of the episodes, an experienced Literacy Consultant, a Local Authority Advisor, and leading scholars from England, Canada, the U.S.A., New Zealand and Singapore.  These commentaries offer alternative perspectives on the episodes and critiques of our own interpretations and judgements.  We’d love to add your voice to this conversation.  Click here for details.