This article examines a small-scale ethnographic survey of a single classroom. Drawing on the collected data, the discussion focuses on some of the problems encountered whilst collecting and interpreting data through self-report diaries. Amongst the issues considered are the perceptions of teachers and learners and their ability to articulate these perceptions, revealing that key assumptions need to be made explicit before appropriate conclusions can be drawn from the data. The article also discusses how variation within the data might be the result of the specific diary approach developed. The article concludes positively, however, suggesting that explicit recognition of these difficulties can still lead to fruitful, localized approaches to the data.