Teachers are on their feet all day, and having the right shoes is essential to survive long days of grading homework assignments and quizzes, hands-on lessons, recess duty and parent-teacher meetings. Whether you're leading the charge on school trips or preparing the week's lesson plan, the right footwear can impact your comfort level — and perhaps even your mood throughout the day.
With so many comfortable shoes on the market, there are a few standby styles teachers abide by. If you're someone logging more than 10,000 steps a day, it's vital to think carefully about your footwear rotation (and depending on the type of educator you are, you may be hitting that goal by lunchtime!). Shop TODAY talked to teachers and a podiatrist for the best styles to keep in your daily rotation, plus which shoes will ease the pain while standing all day.
Shoe styles for standing all day | Teacher-approved shoe styles | Shoes teachers should avoid | Shoes to shop for women | Shoes to shop for men | Meet the experts
What is the best shoe for standing all day?
Comfort is key when choosing the right shoes for work, but the decision is a little more nuanced when it comes to educators. According to elementary school teacher Susan Cocchi, her perfect footwear needs to be "comfortable, supportive [and] slip-resistant because ultimately what you wear will ease the strain of being on your feet all day."
"In my 25 years of experience as an educator, I learned early on that spending a little more on well-made, high-quality shoes was well worth it given the amount of time spent on your feet and walking throughout the day," she stresses.
"A shoe that is solid and supports the sides of your feet, as well as the arches, [is essential]. I think running or athletic shoes are some of the best options, as they support your feet and make it comfortable to stand all day long in them," adds elementary school teacher Kaleb Donels.
What kind of shoes should a teacher wear?
Schools usually have their own set dress code when it comes to footwear. For Jude Bender, a preschool special education teacher's assistant for nearly three decades, her go-to style just happens to be the most casual. "In our day at school, comfort is a must," she says. "We mostly wear sneakers!"
For those with plantar fasciitis, board-certified podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera recommends choosing a shoe with "arch support, cushioning and a thicker, shock-absorbing sole."
What shoes should teachers avoid?
According to Bender, open-toed shoes, slip-ons or sandals should be avoided to prevent falls. "A full coverage in the back is preferred at my school. Sandals are a safety hazard because we're running around with children all day and these shoes can cause accidents."
As for Cocchi, heels top her list of shoes to never wear at work. "Comfort is the number one priority!"
Sutera notes that some other styles to avoid include flat, thin and worn-out shoes. "Also, it is a good idea to alternate shoes throughout the week and day, if necessary," she adds. Wearing the same shoes all day can cause injury and atrophy.
Additionally, she suggests to "avoid walking barefoot when at home and wear supportive slippers or recovery slides" after a long day of standing and running. According to Sutera, walking barefoot can cause foot pain, inflammation, plantar fasciitis, back pain, tendonitis and other ailments over time.
"The fat pad under the ball of foot and heel starts to atrophy, or thin out due to age and wear and tear. This natural fat pad helps to absorb shock and cushion. When this starts to thin, we start to lose our natural padding. Wearing slippers and shoes that are supportive and cushioned will provide shock absorption and protect the foot and body," Sutera says.
She also suggests stretching your calves to keep the achilles tendon flexible, strong and lengthened. "Tight achilles and calves can cause fasciitis, tendonitis, leg pain, back pain, etc. I recommend daily stretching and icing the arch when it's sore or at end of the day when necessary."
Best women's shoes for teachers
Blowfish Malibu Forever Lug Sole Sneaker
This comfortable pair of sneakers will add a modern touch to your teacher attire and keep you safe while running around at school. The design features a side zipper for easy wear and a lug sole design that provides a bit of elevation. Plus, according to customers, these offer the perfect fit and are wide enough on the toe box.
"These are super comfy and the added height keeps the bottom of my feet protected," shared one Amazon buyer.
Illude Women's Platform Lace Up Sneaker
With a chunky platform, these vegan leather sneakers are "lightweight" and offer "nice support," according to reviewers. Available in five colors, these shoes are described by the brand as "sweet and sporty," meaning they'll match any outfit, whether you choose to dress up or down.
One teacher TikToker gave high praises about this sneaker style and recommended them to her followers.
Cushionaire Women's Sparks Slip On Chelsea Boot
Boots are a teacher's favorite for their support and sturdy construction. A TikToker shared this pair on her list of "go-to comfort shoes for teaching all day". It features memory foam padding and a non-slip traction outsole for days that require extensive strolls throughout the hallways. The shoe can be dressed up with jeans, pants and dresses, which makes them a versatile option for your daily wardrobe.
"These are comfy, spacious, stylish, and fairly priced! They contour to your leg and will support you!" said one Amazon reviewer.
New Balance Women's 577 V1 Hook and Loop Walking Shoe
One of the callouts on this New Balance shoe is the cushioning in the heel, meant to absorb shock when on your feet all day. The added velcro helps to provide "stability and support," according to one reviewer. From grandmothers to supermodels, barbecuing fathers and Gen Zers, New Balances are loved by many and this shoe might help convince you of that.
Cushionaire Sasha Slip-On Chelsea Boot
Available in three different colors, this Chelsea boot has a two-inch block heel, which provides more support than thin heels. The boot is made out of vegan leather, which reviewers love because of their comfort and how they can "last all day standing up or walking," plus they're "really cute." An added perk? The memory foam sole on the inside keeps you comfortable.
Vionic Miles Active Sneaker
If you need to take extra steps throughout the day, these Vionic sneakers are meant to support every stride. The shoe combines a podiatrist-designed orthotic with a cushioned outsole that provides great comfort, especially for people with plantar fasciitis. The sneakers are also super breathable and will accommodate your feet for hours, even after a few lessons with your students.
Hey Dude Wendy Slub Canvas
One TikTok teacher relies heavily on this pair of Hey Dudes. "These are washable and I've washed them a couple of times. These are so comfy, almost like slippers and you just slip your feet in," they summarized.
"These shoes fit true to size and feature a Flex & Fold technology that makes them flexible and durable. Also, they have a cotton lining for extra breathability and a cushioned footbed to resist weight throughout the day," added one Amazon buyer.
Adidas Women's Cloudfoam Pure 2.0
For a running-inspired shoe that will withstand ample wear and tear, this pair of Adidas is a must-have. With over 12,200 verified five-star ratings, this sneaker is a great choice to wear in the classroom or during recess. The shoes are very comfortable for light to moderate activity and will hold up nicely by the end of the work day.
Dr. Scholl's Time Off Sneaker
This trusted brand will protect your feet while leveraging your style. This design features a retro-inspired look with an extra lift that feels flexible and lightweight. The sporty vibe and water-resistant faux leather will keep you dry, even when the weather abruptly rains on your parade. It also features anti-microbial and anti-odor insole technology with anatomical cushioning.
Skechers D'Lites Play On
Skechers are a teacher's favorite for their supportive, comfortable and flexible design. This pair features a lightweight shock-absorbing supportive midsole and air-cooled memory foam that will feel like you're walking on clouds. If you're looking for a durable pair that will withstand wear and tear, this is the perfect style to survive any playtime session.
Reebok Classic Leather Shoes
This Reebok pair is a true classic that won't disappoint the workaholic or city educator running errands post-class. The foam-covered sock liner is what makes this sneaker a cult favorite, plus it features a retro design to match all your casual wear.
Personally, I love this sneaker because it goes with most of my wardrobe. I owned this pair for years until it got stained. The pair was very reliable and never let me down when it came to long wait in line or walking for miles.
New Balance 574 Core
When you need to adapt to a new school environment, this pair will give you the confidence and support you need. This sneaker is a hybrid for its performance and ability to work outdoors and indoors. The classic design is meant to match your work wardrobe staples while giving you reliable support throughout the day. The shoe also features a suede material and midsole foam with a wide toe box to help you stand on your feet for hours.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic Run Star Hike High Top Platform
While the classic platform Converse offers support and is often worn by those who frequent the gym, their Run Star Hike line features rubber jagged ridges on the platform for a more relaxed, stylish shoe. Available in both a low- and high-top option, editorial assistant Sierra Hoeger loves these shoes not only because they add inches to her height, but they're "more comfortable and stylish" than other platform shoes.
Brooks Ghost 14
Available in 11 colors, these durable sneakers are made out of recycled materials and feature a DNA LOFT cushioning for a soft experience. This shoe is designed to react with your unique stride and offers comfort along the way. According to Cocchi, Brooks "is a definite favorite of one of our kindergarten teachers."
Whether you run long distances or stand all day, reviewers rave about the reliable support this sneaker provides.
Clarks Un Rio Zip White Leather
The pair is very user-friendly thanks to the side zipper and features a breathable lining that won't retain heat when you're working hard. Beyond their stylish design and unparalleled comfort, these sneakers are favored by one Shop TODAY editor.
"I do a lot of walking and I'm always looking for the most comfortable shoe possible. With these sneakers, I love they're both comfortable and stylish. I was looking for a neutral shoe and this one fits the bill perfectly. It looks good with office wear and just regular sneakers," said associate editor Kamari Stewart.
Birdies The Vesper
While some teachers opt for sneakers over flats, these are super comfortable and feminine. The flat category from Birdies offers many styles to mix and match. This one has seven layers of cloud-like comfort in the footbed that will make you feel relaxed, according to the brand. Aside from their comfortable feel, these Birdies have a luxurious aesthetic to match your most elegant work outfits.
Dansko Professional Antique
This is a favorite among teachers (including Cocchi) for its revolutionary comfort technology. The shoe features a wide and roomy tow box with an inner frame that offers stability and support. These trusted clogs are meant to withstand any working conditions, especially if you're standing most of the day. With a tough and sturdy aesthetic, these functional shoes just get better with time.
Hoka Clifton 9
Shop TODAY editors and podiatrists are fans of Hoka sneakers, but teachers can't stop wearing them, too. The design features a lightweight and breathable design with a molded EVA foam midsole to help your run with confidence and stand for hours. This bestseller comes in 12 different colors and you can choose between a regular or wide size.
Ecco Women's Gruuv Sneaker
Ecco has a range of modern sneakers to support active workers in any occupational field. Whether you are a teacher on a field trip or an engineer on site, this shoe is carefully crafted with top-notch features such as ECCO Fluidform construction, external loops with elastic shoelaces, ECCO DriTan technology to reduce water during their leather tanning process and more. Additionally, this shoe bends and withstands long hours while allowing your foot to grip at any angle.
Frankie4 Winnie II Black/White Suede
This Australian-based brand was founded by a podiatrist seeking to alleviate pain and looking for comfort. If you're an educator standing on your feet all day, this shoe is the answer. As a journalist who commutes on foot and walks around for hours, I appreciate the innovative cushioning of the insole. The sneaker comes with a patented Sole Hero footbed that supports my heel, arch and forefoot.
Best men's shoes for teachers
St. John’s Bay Bryce Mens Lace-Up Shoes
For a dressy casual 'fit, this lace-up sneaker is a great choice. The affordability and comfort the design offers are unparalleled. This shoe features a classic lace-up closure with lightweight materials that makes it perfect for everyday wear in the classroom.
"This is a great shoe if you want something a little more dressy than a tennis shoe but not a formal dress shoe. It's very comfortable," said one buyer.
Rockport Men's Eureka Walking Shoe
With over 15,400 verified ratings, this walking shoe will withstand the playground or classroom, especially when you're standing for hours. These utility sneakers are easy to dress up or down, plus the brand's footbed technology is made to fight fatigue.
Many reviewers mentioned they've worn their Rockports for 20 years, with one buyer sharing that he "walks typically 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day at work. These shoes are very comfortable for daily walkers. Mine are wide and this is very helpful. It took me a couple of years to fully wear out my first pair."
Columbia Men’s PFG Bahama Vent Shoe
Miami-based educator David Diaz loves this pair for "the overall comfort, style and flexibility that it offers. They are very affordable and are offered in multiple styles and colors, as well."
The shoe is versatile and features an advanced outsole that offers superior grip, even on wet surfaces. Customers that bought this pair love how sturdy and reliable this shoe is in different environments.
If your days as a teacher are filled with high-impact activities, this is a solid shoe to keep in your closet. The design featured a 3D Space Construction that offers different compression rates and a GEL Technology Cushioning for shock absorption. This shoe offers the cushion necessary to give you stability throughout the day and you can even run miles in them.
"They’re plush, neutral, supportive, grippy, with nice foam and gel. Yet I can still feel the texture of the ground," said one reviewer.
Cole Haan Men's Generation ZeroGrand II
Cole Haan always delivers performance and comfort when it comes to their sneakers. This one in particular offers lightweight cushioning and is made with sustainable materials. The shoe behaves like an athletic shoe while still delivering the elegant aesthetics of a dressy shoe.
"I am always on my feet and I never have sore feet at the end of the day when wearing these shoes. They are also the types of shoes that could be worn with casual pants as well as with a pair of jeans and would look great," said Diaz, who is a fan of this pair.
On Running Cloudrift
This pair is engineered for those that are always on the move and stand all day. The shoe has a breathable upper that won't make your feet super warm and is designed for everyday activities. It's customized with a 2/3 Speedboard technology that helps to maximize your energy and speed. So, if you're a teacher always on the move, this shoe will make you feel like you're walking on clouds.
Meet the experts
- Jude Bender is a veteran teacher's assistant at The Barbara C. Wilson Preschool in Woodbury, New York, specializing in care for children with developmental needs.
- Susan Cocchi has been teaching science in New Jersey's Neptune Township School District for more than 25 years and currently teaches elementary school STEM.
- Kaleb Donels is a teacher based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, specializing in level II/III special education in an autism-focus classroom.
- David Diaz is a teacher based in Miami, Florida, where he teaches 7th grade mathematics and 6th to 8th grade robotics at Ethel Koger Beckham K-8 Center.
- Jacqueline Sutera is a board-certified podiatrist with an office located in New York City. She specializes in women's foot care and treats common issues such as flat feet, diabetic foot care and more.