When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis as a 27 year-old teacher, a pair of shoes changed my professional life. I’m not kidding. The pain in my feet became unbearable and so did walking the aisles checking homework, pacing while I taught lessons, and standing in the hall while the kids entered the classroom. I quickly became the un-fun teacher who wanted to sit on the job more than anything else–counter to my active teaching style. Even though my compassionate principal ordered me a desk chair with wheels so I could scoot around, I wanted to get back on my feet–physically and professionally.
Although I did not yet know the term “toe box,” I knew I needed a shoe that didn’t constrict my painful toes. I never had to worry about arch support before, but now the joints in my mid-foot were shifting due to active RA. Having absolutely no idea which kind of shoe would work for me, I walked into Nordstrom and was quickly overwhelmed by all the choices. I walked out the door into the open-air mall and saw a small shoe store called Joyce Selby.
A kind lady listened to my woes and walked me to the display of Dansko clogs. I’d never heard of Dansko. I picked out a simple black mary jane clog. She brought me my size and I strapped them on my throbbing feet. I took a few steps and knew I’d found a winner. I turned the shoe over to check the price and noticed the style name….Kirsten. My namesake shoe.
The Dansko rocker sole allowed me to walk naturally by propelling my feet through the stride while alleviating pressure on my forefoot. The arch support was perfect and the toe box wide enough–small miracles for my feet. I recall wearing them with everything: pants, skirts, jeans, dresses. I wish I had kept them. I would have had them bronzed. Imagine my excitement when Dansko released the Sam clog, a doppelganger for the Kirsten! You can find it in euro sizes 36-43 (5.5-12.5) for $119.95 from Zappos, Dansko.com, Amazon, and Nordstrom.
Comfortable shoes for teachers must also be versatile. The Clarks Pure Tone slip-on adds a touch of class to most outfits. We love the Pure Tone for its soft leather uppers that accommodate bunions and the super-cushioned triple-density Ortholite insole. Clarks customer Mary had this to say about her new Pure Tone slip-ons:
The minute I tried on this shoe, I knew I was in heaven! I am a teacher and on my feet most of the day. The fit and comfort of this shoe is exceptional and I love the color. I have bought my fair share of uncomfortable shoes, so believe me, I know what I am talking about when I say this shoe is a winner!
If you’re going to spend over $150 on a pair of comfort shoes on an educator’s salary, make it a pair of Naots. This quality Israeli brand understands problem feet and their styles keep getting cuter by the season. We like the closed-toe, yet open-middle Naot Kata as a transition shoe from summer into fall. The arch support is top-notch and the wide toe box works for bunions. Plus, the footbed is removable to allow use of a personal orthotic. Take it from Zappos customer Mrs. D, a high school teacher:
Super cute – not a sandal and not a shoe! As a high school teacher I am on my feet all day – discipline by proximity. Are Naot shoes worth the price – just ask my feet! Years of wearing pointed toe/high (4″) heels have done their damage to my old feet. This brand makes shoes for real people with real feet. Kata will look great with everything, from pants, skirts, and dresses.
If an ankle boot is more your style, consider the Born Bessie western-inspired bootie. The Bessie features a cushioned footbed that’s removable if you should prefer to add your own insole/orthotic for increased support. A rounded toe and low 1.5″ heel add to the all-day comfort of the Bessie boot. Zappos customer Kirsten (not me!) had this to say about her new Born booties:
These boots are fabulous. I find myself planning my outfits around them. I get lots of compliments and inquiries whenever I wear them! As a teacher I am on my feet all day. Theses are by far the most comfortable pair of boots I have owned. And SO CHIC!
Find the Born Bessie in sizes 6-11 for $139.95 from Zappos.
Are you an educator? What shoes carry you through the day? Leave a comment and let us know.