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Teacher Shoes: The Story of a Teacher's Vow


These boots were made for walkin', and that's just what they'll do. One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.
                                                            Nancy Sinatra

From the time I was a small child, I've been fascinated by shoes. Maybe it's because I had to wear corrective shoes until I was in third or fourth grade. I longed to wear girly sandals or gym shoes. My corrective shoes were shit-brown lace-ups with clunky soles. Sometimes, I even had to wear orthotic inserts inside my ugly shoes.

When I finally decided to be a teacher, after years of avoiding the "you should be a teacher" talks from my teacher mom and grandmother, I took a vow. I swore to my mother that I would never wear teacher shoes. Those were the days when every teacher I knew wore SAS shoes, either gray, navy, black or brown, to match their polyester pantsuits. To me, there's something about certain pairs of shoes that can make me feel powerful, even when I'm not. SAS shoes were not power shoes.


I celebrated my first year of teaching by purchasing a fantastic pair of pumps. They were red silk with Chinese-style brocade embroidered on them. They were magnificent. With steely resolve, I teetered through my first year of teaching, and my sixth grade girls adored my shoes as much as I did. My feet hurt, but dang! They looked good. My student-teaching supervising teacher, who I had stayed in contact with, coveted them. 

Flash forward fifteen years. I was wandering the shoe aisles in T.J. Maxx when I spotted them. They were gorgeous. Cole Haan calf hair leopard print stilettos...with Nike Air Technology! Even the discount store price was more than I wanted to spend...$150. I believe in miracles. Do you? Two weeks later, there was one pair left, and they were in my size and marked down to $24.99. It was destiny. I wore them every chance I got, usually with a monochromatic outfit in black or chocolate brown. My mother closed her mouth and shook her head. 

Then we entered the age of the clog. While everyone around me wore Dansko and Born clogs that reminded me of those dreaded SAS shoes, I rocked Rocket Dog wooden clogs. They looked great on jean day with my dark boot-cut jeans and turquoise velvet blazer. Everyone could hear me walking, heel-toe-heel-toe. I worked the front hallway like it was a catwalk. My coworker said she always knew when I had arrived at school.

The universe has a way of teaching us lessons. As I power walked down the hallway on my way to my next coaching appointment, the skinny heel of my fabulous fawn-colored, suede, spike-heeled bootie caught a seam in the tile. I went flying and landed on my back.  I rolled around on the floor while 22 passing kindergartners pointed and yelled, "Look! Look at the lady!" My angry ankle swelled until I had to limp in my stocking feet out to my car to go to urgent care. 

Hours later on my couch, I thought about my vow. If I had been wearing SAS shoes, I wouldn't have fallen. It's true. If I'm honest with myself, my vow was never about the shoes. I think it was about wanting to be ME, my own kind of teacher. I wanted to carve out my own teaching identity, different than my mom's or grandmother's.  But when I was an 18 year old high school graduate contemplating a teaching career, that meant I wouldn't wear those shoes. 


If you're in the mood for a good laugh, be sure to check out our podcast! This week's episode is all about teacher fashions throughout the years. We laughed until we cried recording it! Click the picture below!


Be sure to check out my podcast buddies' teacher fashion blog posts below! Retta, Kathie & Deann will keep you smiling!


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2 comments

  1. Luckily I do not know any teachers who wore those SAS shoes! Yikes, they look hideous! I would, however, love to have seen you teaching in your red, silk pumps! LOL You definitely have style, my friend!

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  2. I once read that Oprah would enter the tv set in Tieks or sneakers, and then place the Louboutins on her feet while seated. Since she could stay seated throughout the show, no problem! Not a choice for teachers! Loved seeing and hearing about your shoe choices and your mini-rebellion! Great post!

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