In a world that manufactures shoes for every profession, from mechanics to nursing, teaching is one of the few professions that do not have a specific footwear line. Teachers scramble to find a comfortable shoe that follows the dress code and helps them keep up with the demands of their job. When I was student-teaching, I quickly realized that my cute, yet professional sandals were not going to cut it.
You need a shoe that has comfort, durability, and support: we highly recommend the Easy Spirit Women’s Traveltime Mule and the Rockport Eureka for men. The remaining shoes on our list also come highly recommended by teachers to relieve foot and leg pain after a long day on your feet.
|Teacher shoe||Fit||Price||Best Feature|
|Easy Spirit Traveltime Mule||Women's||Budget-friendly||Recommended by podiatrists for foot issues|
|Rockport Eureka||Men's||Moderately priced||Available in narrow, wide, and extra wide sizes|
|Crocs Kadee Flat||Women's||Budget-friendly||Stylish croc flats with an open, breathable design like the original model|
|Adidas NEO Cloudfoam Race||Men's||Budget-friendly||Cloudfoam insole and midsole have great cushion|
|Vionic Walker Shoes||Women's||Expensive||Orthotic walking shoe best for PE teachers|
|NIKE Air Monarch IV||Men's||Moderately priced||Midsole has excellent cushion and support for long days of standing and walking|
The Best Shoes for Teachers
Easy Spirit Traveltime Mule
While a mule isn’t what you would consider a “teacher” shoe, many instructors rave about the Easy Spirit Women’s Traveltime Mule. The company has been making women’s shoes for over thirty-five years – everything from athletic sneakers to sandals. This option has the look of a sneaker in a comfortable mule-style shoe.
The heel comes up far enough to where it won’t slip off of your foot during your most active teaching sessions. These mules have plenty of toe room so that you can stand more naturally. These are even doctor-recommended, so they are perfect for women who have foot conditions. The Traveltime Mule has lots of cushion and a no-slip bottom, perfect for the hustle and bustle that is the daily life of a teacher.
- Doctor-recommended for foot issues like Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and bone spurs
- Available in many sizes and color combinations, including solid black
- 100% leather or 100% fabric leather upper
- Round toe shoes for more wiggle room
- Slip-on style for easy on-off
- Breathable for all-day wear
- Durable outsole with good grip for slippery surfaces
- Relieve joint pain
- Run narrow and feel tight across the forefoot
- Wear out easily
- Some complaints that they are noisy when you walk
- Little arch support
Crocs Kadee Flat
Let’s face it: we all love Crocs; we just hate how they look! The Crocs Women’s Kadee Flat is perfect for women who want the comfort of a Croc without the ugly appearance. The Kadee flat is a ballet slipper that slides right on your feet; it even has the breathable holes that make the Crocs so comfortable.
If you are an art or a science teacher, you know that your floors can get pretty slippery. While they aren’t the most protective shoe in the world, the bottom has great slip protection from slips and falls in front of your class. The Kadee Flat has the comfort of the Original Croc, so you’ll never want to take these off – they might just become your go-to shoe outside of work.
- Crocs flats for women with a stylish look
- 100% synthetic material for easy cleaning and lightweight feel on your feet
- The slip-resistant bottom is great for science or art teachers
- Available in many sizes and colors
- An open, breathable design like the original Croc
- Has a 1” heel
- Round toe shoes with wide toe area for lots of wiggle room
- Lots of cushion for comfort
- No arch support
- Run large and stretch after you wear them a while
- Soles pick up debris
Vionic Walker Shoes
Although physical education teachers might have an easier time shopping for shoes to wear to work, they still have to comply with the dress code. It’s difficult to find sturdy footwear that complies with employer standards. The Vionic Women’s Walker is popular among female PE teachers because they are SO comfortable.
Podiatrists recommend them for women with foot conditions, but you can wear them even if you don’t have these issues. They come in many color schemes, but they are available in solid black. The Vionic Walkers have a little lift from heel to toe to make walking less stressful on your joints, and they have a cushy insole that comes out if you want to replace it with your favorite insole. Throw in the slip protection on the bottom, and this shoe is definitely a winner.
- Orthotic walking tennis shoe recommended by podiatrists for foot conditions
- Breathable leather upper with small perforations
- Best shoes for PE teachers
- Comes in many color options, including solid black
- Comfortable EVA foam insole is removable for special insert
- .5” height difference between the heel and the toe for less stress on the joints
- The rubber outsole has good traction and slip protection on smooth surfaces
- Mild break-in period
- Feel clunky on your feet
KEEN Whisper Sandal
You know KEEN footwear if you live an active lifestyle. The company makes all types of active footwear, and some teachers swear by their KEEN Women’s Whisper Sandals. Just like their other models, the footbed forms to the shape of your foot to fit you perfectly. This means a lot when you are always on your feet lecturing or running after students (if you teach elementary school, supervise lunch hour, or attend the dreaded student pick-up).
Any teacher will tell you toe protection is just as important as foot protection. This sandal has an extended toe bumper to save your toes when you hit the corner of a desk or the leg of a chair. We love the KEEN Whisper Sandal’s user-friendly design: no tie-up laces, the polyester keeps your feet dry all day, and it’s machine-washable!
- 100% polyester upper with mesh lining keeps water and sweat away from your skin
- Rubber outsole with front bumper protects your toes
- Bungee lace system – no laces that will come untied!
- Footbed shapes to your foot
- Compression-molded EVA foam midsole absorbs impact away from your joints as you walk
- Breathable sandals that are machine washable
- Available in multiple colors
- Some reports that upper unravels within a year
- Ankle strap not adjustable
Although the Klogs Naplesis a nursing clog, it has a professional look that is a perfect fit for teachers. All of the protection it affords nurses translates into the classroom. The leather exterior keeps your feet safe from spills and accidents, making the Naples a great option for science teachers.
The Klogs Naples is a slip-on clog that you can slide into easily every morning. If you have medium to high arches, you’ll love this model’s arch support. The Klogs Naples comes in many styles and designs, but we recommend staying away from those. The designs peel away very quickly – stick to the leather options in solid colors for longer-lasting footwear.
- A nursing clog with a professional look that works great for teachers
- 100% leather exterior has great foot protection for messier jobs, such as science teachers
- Available in solid colors for dress code
- 1” platform and a 2” heel add height and absorb impact when you walk
- Excellent support for women with medium to high arches
- Slip-resistant and oil-resistant to prevent falls
- Comfort insole prevents odors
- Best shoes for wide feet
- Insole removes for your favorite insert
- Run large
- Patterned designs peel easily
- Leather bends and cracks during the break-in period
When it comes to men’s walking shoes, the Rockport Eureka continually delivers. They have a classy look, perfect for private schools that require a formal dress code. Available in wide sizes, the Rockport Eureka includes several comfort features designed to keep you comfortable. It’s our fancy pick for the best shoes for male teachers.
The rubber outsole has excellent traction, so you can wear them indoors or outdoors. Although most leather shoes run hot, the Eureka’s mesh liner pulls sweat away from your foot. This flexible shoe moves with your foot as you walk, making a long day of teaching on your feet easier on your joints.
- Moderately priced
- 100% San Crispino leather upper is more flexible than other leather shoes when you walk
- Available in neutral colors
- The rubber outsole has good traction on multiple surfaces
- Available in narrow, wide, and extra wide sizes
- EVA midsole absorbs impact as you walk, relieving stress on your joints
- Comfortable closed toe shoes for business-casual dress code
- Mesh liner pulls moisture away from your feet and helps your feet breathe
- Extra padding in the ankle collar and the tongue keep your feet comfortable
- Latex foam footbed for soft comfort under your feet
- Laces might come untied
- Regular customers say the quality is worse than past years
- Don’t hold up longer than a year
Adidas NEO Cloudfoam Race
While everyone knows the name Adidas, the company has branched out in many directions. Their NEO products combine the company’s popular athletic shoes with a casual look for footwear that suits any lifestyle. The Adidas NEO Cloudfoam Race is made exclusively with the company’s Cloudfoam, providing a springy feel when you walk and putting more bounce in your step.
The Cloudfoam Race is incredibly breathable, with a knit upper that allows more air to move in and out of your shoe. The support of the Cloudfoam makes the shoe perfect for standing or walking at work all day. This model comes in solid colors and half-sizes, so any male teacher can find the right style and fit.
- 100% breathable knit upper
- Synthetic overlays make the shoe more durable
- Rubber outsole with good traction
- Cloudfoam insole and midsole have lightweight, cushioned support
- Comfortable for standing and walking for long periods
- Available in solid colors
- Available in half sizes
- No wide sizes
- Run narrow
- Don’t hold up longer than a year
NIKE Air Monarch IV
NIKE Air Monarch IV’s have a classic look that isn’t too flashy, with tons of comfort to go with them. Even though they are cross-trainers, the Air Monarch works for any physical activity: walking and running, exercise drills, or standing. Great for PE teachers, this model has a flexible outsole with excellent traction on smooth surfaces (like a gym floor). It also has an extended bumper for an extra layer of toe protection.
Teachers really love wearing these all day because they relieve leg and foot pain. No matter what you are doing, the midsole – with EVA foam and air pockets – absorbs impact as you walk. This relieves pressure off of your joints and keeps your feet and legs from getting sore. With incredible arch support, the NIKE Air Monarch IV Cross Trainer is a shoe for the active teacher.
- Moderately priced cross trainer that is great for standing, walking, running, or exercise
- Best shoes for PE teachers
- Phylon midsole (EVA foam with air pockets) has great cushion for long days on your feet
- Several comfort features, such as interior fabric lining, and a padded tongue and ankle collar
- The flexible rubber outsole has good traction on smooth surfaces
- Available in many sizes, widths, and color schemes, including solid black
- Insole has great arch support, but it is removable for an orthotic insert
- Run narrow in the forefoot and feels tight around the toes
- Air pockets in midsole squeak when you walk
- Feel heavy and clunky
- Don’t breathe well
- Don’t hold up for more than a year (even shorter if you wear them on pavement)
Merrell Encore Gust
Since Merrell started selling handcrafted hiking boots over thirty years ago, their product line has expanded to casual and work footwear. The Merrell Men’s Encore Gust Slip-On Shoe is a flexible mule that you can wear in any environment. These shoes are perfect for walking, standing, or bending – the typical activities of a teacher.
The slip-resistant outsole holds up to indoor or outdoor wear. A 2” heel has an air pocket for extra cushion to relieve heel pain. The Merrell Encore Gust runs long and narrow, so they are ideally suited for men with narrow feet. These mules are great choices for the best shoes for male teachers, especially for elementary school teachers who need a sturdy shoe to help them keep up with their active students.
- Flexible mule shoe designed for walking and bending
- Slip-resistant M-Select GRIP outsole has good traction on wet or dry surfaces
- Removable Ortholite footbed reduces foot and leg fatigue
- Soft fabric interior liner and padded collar keep your feet comfortable
- 2” heel has an air pocket in the heel for extra cushion
- A molded nylon arch shank for support when standing on your feet for long hours
- Compression-molded EVA foam midsole adds spring in your step when you walk
- Full grain leather upper doesn’t breathe well
- No wide sizes
KEEN Austin Shoe
If the Rockport Eureka is too dressy for you, then the KEEN Men’s Austin Shoe is your best shoes for male teachers. It still has the Oxford design with a much more casual style. The Austin has excellent arch support for men with high, defined arches.
When you have problem feet, finding a good pair of work shoes is exhausting. The Austin has a comfortable insole, but it comes out if you want to replace it with one that fits your needs (such as a custom insert or an orthotic). A sweatproof interior liner and the waterproof Nubuck upper make this shoe perfect for swim coaches or teachers who live in wet climates.
- Moderately priced, casual Oxford-style walking shoe
- 100% Nubuck leather is waterproof
- The rubber outsole has excellent traction on multiple surfaces, with a bumper for toe protection
- Available in larger sizes
- Insole shapes to your foot, but it is removable for a custom orthotic
- Great arch support
- The inside liner keeps your feet dry all day
- No wide sizes
- Flimsy lace hooks
- Don’t hold up longer than a year
How Did We Choose the 10 Best Shoes for Teachers?
Our process for choosing the best shoes for teachers was pretty simple: we asked them. All of these shoes come highly recommended by men and women who wear them to teach. Since teaching is such a broad category (from instructors to tutors), we tried to include examples that would work for everyone.
We also consulted male teachers when researching our article. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, male teachers make up anywhere from 2% to 40% of employed teachers (depending on the discipline). We were appalled that most other review sites and articles almost completely ignore male teachers and their foot needs. Although female teachers do outnumber male teachers in all K-12 academic fields, the gender-specific idea that only women teach is outdated in 2019. To help the male teachers out, we devoted half of our list to the best men’s shoes for teaching.
This review is just a starting point. Many more shoes on the market will work as teacher shoes. As you are shopping around, look for shoes that:
- Suit your school’s dress code
- Have adequate arch and foot support
- Have superior comfort features that relieve impact from your joints
- Cater to the type of teacher you are. Some examples of this might be: science and art teachers should find a more durable and protective upper (such as synthetic or leather), PE teachers should look for an athletic shoe, etc.
FAQ’s for Best Teacher Shoes
Why do teachers need comfortable shoes?
Unfortunately, the major shoe manufacturers haven’t caught up to the enormous market that teachers provide. Without shoes made just for teachers, these professionals scramble to find comfortable and supportive footwear that holds up to their busy days. Many teachers have to buy separate shoes for work. The shoes they would wear for comfort in their daily lives just won’t cut it in a professional setting. Teachers also have to consider their employer requirements.
Another reason teachers need comfortable shoes is that they are the hardest-working professionals in the workforce today. They put in more unpaid hours than almost any other profession: a typical teacher’s day starts over an hour before your children arrive and long after they leave. Teachers are always on their feet: instructing your children, running after unruly students in the classroom or the hallways, and hustling to the other demands of their day (such as supervising lunch hour or end-of-day pickup).
Which are the best teacher shoes for using an orthotic insert?
Not all teachers have healthy feet. Many suffer from foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, heel pain, ball of foot pain, and discomfort in the bones of their feet. While some of these conditions may be chronic or hereditary, they are usually caused by wearing the wrong type of shoe.
Several selections on our list are recommended by podiatrists to relieve foot conditions. Many shoes today come with a removable insole so that you can replace it with an orthotic. Several teachers invest in quality insoles for extra cushion under their feet. In our review, we’ve highlighted the shoes that come with a removable insole.
Why are teacher shoes so expensive?
That’s an excellent question. The price of a shoe often reflects the craftsmanship or work that went into making it. You’ll notice that handcrafted shoes are more expensive than ones that are not. Shoes with more sophisticated comfort features will also carry a higher price tag.
This is a problem for teachers. Most start out making around $35,000 a year (according to the national average), without much room for raises over their entire career. The average salary for an experienced teacher in the United States barely reaches $60,000.
When you factor in that almost all teachers buy their own supplies, there isn’t much room to spend too much money on an expensive pair of shoes. We have done our best to include quality shoes available at every price point. Many of the options on our list are either budget-friendly or moderately priced. Either you can buy multiple pairs, or you can replace the shoes you already have without too much of a hit to your pocketbook.
The daily life of a teacher includes many hours on your feet, and you need a pair of comfortable shoes to get through your workday. Without a pair of shoes that fit your feet well, you can end your day by soaking your feet to ease the throbbing pain in your feet and legs.
When you have a great pair of work shoes, you will have more bounce in your step and more energy – something you need when you are educating tomorrow’s leaders.
Jennifer Conerly is a writer and editor with extensive retail experience in athletic shoes and fitness she never thought would come in handy.