Michele Foster

Michele Foster

Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education
Room 250 - College of Education and Human Development
Office: 502-852-0572
michele.foster @ louisville.edu



I grew up on the East Coast and have worked in education for many years and at varying levels of the educational spectrum. I have been a faculty member at several universities including: University of Massachusetts-Boston, University of Pennsylvania, University of California-Davis, Claremont Graduate School, University of Missouri-Kansas City and I now serve as a Professor at the University of Louisville.

I like to cook, sew, and can often be found at Spin class or lifting weights. I love to travel and am multilingual, speaking French and Haitian in addition to English.

I have worked to make an impact in academia through my research and scholarship. I have served on the editorial board of many journals, received several research grants from the federal government and private foundations. I also received many awards and honors, most notably the 2007 Spindler Award, awarded by the American Anthropological Association’s Council on Anthropology and Education (CAE). The Spindler Award is the highest given annually to a scholar who has made distinguished and inspirational contributions to educational anthropology.

My research focuses on improving the achievement of students, primarily students of color and improving the practice of their teachers. To this end, I created L-TAPL, Learning Through Teaching in After-School Pedagogical Laboratory, designed specifically for this purpose and funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

I am eager to bring my wide range of educational experience to the College of Education at UofL by offering courses I have taught previously, including: African American English in Society and Schools, The Social, Historical and Cultural Contexts of African American Education, Anthropology of Education, and Ethnographic Methods.

Educational Background

  • PhD, Anthropology and Education, Harvard University
  • MA, Anthropology and Education, Harvard University
  • Tufts University, Graduate Study in Reading, Mathematics and Vocational Education
  • Boston University, Metropolitan College, Graduate Study in Urban Planning and Management
  • BA, Human Development, University of Massachusetts at Boston

Courses Taught Include:

Policy Issues in Desegregation; Language and Culture; Philosophical and Social Foundations of Education; Research Methods I and II; Anthropology of Education; Education in the African American Community; and The African American Female in Contemporary Society

Research Interests

  • Ethnography of speaking
  • Social and cultural contexts of education
  • Urban teacher education/professional development
  • Sociolinguistics Folklore/performance theory
  • Classroom interaction
  • Educational anthropology
  • Urban education

Professional Memberships and Service

  • Distinguished Scholar Award Committee on Scholars of Color in Education, American Educational Research Association, 2004
  • Reviewer, Race to the top Competition, U.S. Department of Education, 2010
  • Features Co-Editor, Educational Researcher, 2004 - 2006
  • Reviewer, Urban Education, 1992 - present
  • Member, Editorial Board, Linguistics and Education, 1999 - present
  • Member, Editorial Board, Race, Etnicity, and Education, 1997 - present

Honors and Awards

  • Spindler Distinguished Scholar Award Council on Anthropology and Education - American Anthropological Association, 2007
  • Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2004 Alumni of Color Achievement Award
  • Phelps-Stokes Fund New York, NY Senior Fellow, 2001 - 2006
  • Research Focus on Black Education American Educational Research Association Outstanding Research Award, 2000

Selected Publications and Presentations


  • Educating a Diverse Student Population for the 21st Century and Beyond. John Swett Unified School District. Crockett, CA September 2009.
  • Using Effective Pedagogy to Improve Educational Outcomes for African America Learners An Interactive Workshop. Council of Chief State School Officers. Washington, D.C February 2002.
  • Publications

  • Black Teachers on Teaching. New York: The New Press. 1997.
  • Unrelated Kin: Ethnic and Gender Identity and Women’s Personal Narratives. Co-editor. New York: Routledge. 1996.
  • A Practice Rich Professional Development Community: Learning Through Teaching in an After School Pedagogical Laboratory (L-TAPL). Educational Leadership. March 2005 (with J. Lewis & L. Onafowora)
  • An Innovative Professional Development Program for Urban Teachers. Phi Delta Kappan. 85(5): 401-406. January 2004
  • Anthropology, culture, and research on teaching and learning: Applying what we have learned to improve teaching practice. Teachers College Record. 105(2): 261 277. 2003 (with J. Lewis & L. Onafowora)
  • Edited Special Issue: North American Editor of The International Handbook of Urban Education. Springer 2007.
  • Book Chapters

  • African American Discourse Genres in the Classroom: Mind, Experience, Spirit To appear in A. K. Spears, ed. Black Language in the U.S. and the Caribbean: History, Structure, Use, and Education. Lexington Books (in press).
  • Race, Class, and Gender in Educational Research. In Z. Leonardo ed. Critical Pedagogy and Race Theory. Blackwell 2006.