Open-toed shoes are excellent casual footwear. After all, they give you breathability, comfort, and fashion that only a few other footwear can provide. Unfortunately, they may not be the most appropriate footwear if you’re a teacher in an elementary school.
Most elementary school teachers are allowed to wear open-toed shoes because no laws ban them. However, some elementary schools prohibit such shoes due to safety, hygiene, and professionalism issues. Some alternatives to open-toed shoes are high-heeled shoes, ballet flats, oxfords, and loafers.
In this article, I’ll discuss the reasons why some schools don’t allow teachers to wear open-toed shoes. I’ll also share some great alternatives if you’re keen on wearing comfortable footwear without sacrificing fashion. Read on to learn more.
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Can Elementary Teachers Wear Open-Toed Shoes?
While no law explicitly forbids school staff from wearing open-toed shoes such as flip-flops or sandals, schools across the US have begun to prohibit wearing them due to safety, hygiene, and professionalism issues.
According to the New York Department of Education (DOE), such policies are acceptable as long as they act congruently with existing DOE policies and guidelines.
Among the schools or districts that have joined in crafting these policies are the Wichita School District, and Lakewood School District. Several private schools, such as the Christian Cypress School, also have footwear restrictions for their faculty members.
However, as restrictive as these policies may be, several studies suggest that these may be a good idea.
According to Dr. Philip Tierno, the director of clinical microbiology and immunology at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, wearing open-toed shoes can make you more susceptible to Staphylococcus aureus, which causes deadly infections or toxins upon entering an open wound.
Moreover, wearing flip-flops and other open-toed shoes makes you more susceptible to plantar fasciitis. This is because it lacks the proper arch support, and your toe ligaments would need to stretch to keep them on.
Lastly, a 2019 study has also found that how teachers dress significantly affects how students judge and learn from them. They found that students who view their teacher’s clothing choices as formal attire are likelier to learn more than when their teachers dress casually.
What Kinds of Shoes Can Elementary Teachers Wear?
When choosing the appropriate footwear as a teacher, remember how your day usually goes by in school. If you typically spend your day sitting at your desk, then wearing less comfortable yet fashionable footwear can be practical.
However, if you’ll spend most of your time standing and roaming around the classroom, I suggest you prioritize comfort over fashion. Before choosing your shoes, you can watch this video that details podiatrists’ advice on what to look for when buying footwear.
Now that you know what to look for in shoes, below are some recommendations for great alternatives you can wear in place of open-toed shoes. I also added some of my personal recommendations from Amazon.com.
High-heeled shoes are timeless footwear worn by women since the 16th century. Not only will it give you a height boost, but it will also give you some psychological benefits.
A psychological study found that wearing high-heeled shoes can boost how men view a woman’s attractiveness through its physical effects on the wearer’s lumbar curvature.
However, the high-heeled shoes should be enough to force its wearer to adopt an “evolutionarily optimal” posture at a 45.5-degree angle of lumbar curvature. This specific angle allows women to move their center of gravity to their hips and avoid long-term spinal issues such as hypolordosis (insufficient lumbar curvature) and hyperlordosis (excessive lumbar curvature).
Still, you should keep in mind how long you’ll be standing when choosing high-heeled shoes. A particular style that balances comfort and stylishness is mary janes, which looks like a combination of high heels and ballerina shoes.
I recommend the Chase & Chloe Mary Janes (available on Amazon.com). They’re made from high-quality vegan leather supported by a lightweight aluminum frame that adds to their comfort and style. Its teardrop design also fits nearly all occasions, from everyday use to weddings and parties. It also has 3.25-inch (8.25-cm) heels, the average heel height for comfortable use.
Ballet flats are another excellent footwear alternative for your sandals. Not only are they stylish enough for professional wear, but they’re also comfortable enough if you’ll use them while standing for long periods.
They’re easy to wear and don’t require the necessary adjustment and pain tolerance that high heels do. They also come in various color combinations: solid, patterned, or printed with pop-culture references.
They’re also common in most schools, so you won’t have a problem blending in. However, ballet flats commonly lack foot support, rendering them unfit for walking long distances. Choose one with arch support and added cushioning.
You can check out the Vionic Classic Ballet Flats (available on Amazon.com). Its upper is made of synthetic leather with a removable microfiber-covered EVA outsole. It also has a TR outsole, which makes it resistant to daily wear and tear.
What sets Vionic’s ballet flats from other brands is its design’s Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association. This means that this pair of footwear can indeed relieve pain in your feet when used for long periods.
Oxford-style shoes are another timeless classic that offers versatility and comfort for teachers. Essentially, they’re dress shoes that can be worn casually for everyday use. You can typically find them made from materials such as patent leather, calf leather, canvas, or suede.
However, like ballet flats, most oxfords tend to focus too much on style instead of comfort, so using them for long walks can be pretty uncomfortable.
If you like wearing something with a more premium look and feel, you can check out this Anthony Veer Men’s Derby Oxford (available on Amazon.com). It’s made of premium materials such as full-grain calfskin leather, which offers both the durability of full-grain leather and the comfort of the softer calfskin material.
It also has a Goodyear welt construction, making its soles easily replaced when the original breaks with time. Its leather-lined insoles also allow a more breathable and hygienic feel.
Loafers are more casual footwear designed for breathability and comfort with added points in fashion. Like oxfords, they’re a timeless classic that you can pair with different styles for various occasions.
They’re typically made of canvas, leather, or suede material and don’t use fastening or lacing systems to keep them in place. To wear, you easily slip them on, which adds convenience.
I recommend the Gecko Man Slip-On Shoes (available on Amazon.com). Its upper canvas material allows for added breathability and comfort, especially in hot weather. It also has a velvet inner lining which is naturally moisture-wicking. Its biomechanically designed inner soles also help absorb stress and impact when walking or standing for long periods.
You’ll also find it easier to walk on smooth surfaces thanks to its non-slip rubber outer soles that are flexible enough to help you maneuver complex surfaces but durable enough to last you years.
Even if you can’t wear open-toed shoes for your work as a teacher, it doesn’t mean you’ll have to suffer from unfashionable or uncomfortable footwear.
Remember, taking care of your feet means taking care of almost everything above them. Your footwear’s quality can affect your posture, confidence, and energy throughout the day, so make sure you prioritize comfort over fashion.
- YouTube: A Podiatrist’s Advice on Shoes with Dr. Kyle Swanson
- ABC News: History of the high heel: It wasn’t always a woman’s shoe
- Frontiers: Why Women Wear High Heels: Evolution, Lumbar Curvature, and Attractiveness
- NYC Department of Education: Dress Code Guidelines
- News 19: School Dress Codes Aren’t Just For Students Anymore
- Lakewood Public School District: PERSONNEL – CERTIFICATED AND NON-CERTIFICATED CONDUCT AND DRESS
- Cypress Christian School: Faculty & Staff Handbook
- Today: Can flip-flops kill you?
- Healthline: Flip-Flops Aren’t Great for Your Feet — Here’s Why, Plus Alternatives to Try
- Hindawi: The Effect of Teachers’ Dress on Students’ Attitude and Students’ Learning: Higher Education View
- How To Deal With Students Who Won’t Stop Talking (20 Top Tips)
- 7 Ways Elementary Students Can Benefit From PowerPoint
- How To Deal With Angry Elementary Students (13 Top Tips)
- How Would Students Describe You as a Teacher? (7 Answers to Give)
- Should Elementary Teachers Give Homework? (The Ultimate Guide)