In education, it is common to hear that we need to close the gap between research and practice. Less common is a consideration of what it means to close this gap. A lot of policy, research and professional learning assumes that research should inform teacher practice by providing evidence about ‘what works’ for students’ learning. However, there are other important ways that we can understand the relationship between research and practice. In this paper, I discuss one possibility for understanding this relationship by looking at the research of Max van Manen and his work in phenomenological pedagogy. Phenomenology provides a way for teachers to reflect on their practice by prioritising the meaning and significance of lived experience. As I describe, phenomenology is a valuable way for research to inform practice; but its value lies not in being able to tell us ‘what works’, but in its power to do something with us.