When I walked into the room where I'll be teaching this year (not my classroom; the school is packed to the gills, and everyone has to share) I did a double take.

"I know," said the teacher who's sharing my room -- my BFF of the teaching world, predecessor at the school paper, and a journalist in her own right; this woman has saved me multiple times, from all kinds of potential disasters.  "The last computer teacher was kind of a pack rat."

Kind of?  KIND OF?!  I suggested we start with the furniture.  There were half a dozen huge metal files with fifty or sixty "inbox" slots in each.  How many inboxes does a man need?  I wondered.  We hauled them out into the hallway.  Then the claustrophobic hutch on the back of the teacher's desk.  Then another half-dozen end tables, podiums (podia?) and shelving units.

Next came the smaller stuff: years and years' worth of books, user manuals and discs (CDs, 3 1/2" floppies, even a stray 5 1/4" or two.  The other teacher had never seen an actual "floppy" disk.  I had to explain to her what it was.)  Enough plastic to form a scale replica of the Pacific Garbage Patch: bookends, CD racks, and more inboxes (this teacher must have gotten a LOT of mail.)

Respectfully, we removed the painted plaster statue of the Virgin Mary and placed it on a table in the hallway, where everyone could marvel at its kitschiness.  I was dying to throw out the vases of fake flowers (I'm not sure if Hell is a physical place, but if it is, it will involve fake flowers.)  My friend convinced me to hide them instead, in case someone should ask where they were.

Now the room looked tidier, but empty -- except for the computer desks lined up in neat rows, it was.  The next day, I dragged Rob over for a professional evaluation.  The school's tech guy dropped by and helped us haul out another couple of desks and reconfigure the room so there was a little more workspace.  I vacuumed, dusted and caulked the holes in the wall where the shelves had been bolted in.

Finally, a trip to Ikea, where I bought several floor lamps, some plants and a bolt of cheery ticking-stripe fabric for curtains.  Rob thinks I am crazy to spend my own money decorating the room, but it was less than $50, and I know it will make a big difference.  I'm also printing my own posters (the joys of having an architect husband with a 36" plotter!)

In my Suzuki training, I learned all sorts of useful non-Suzuki things.  One was a general definition of the three main learning styles: visual, aural and kinesthetic -- basically, whether you learn best by seeing, hearing or doing.  Of course, we all use all three, and musicians have a better balance than most.  However, everyone has one sense that is stronger than the others.

If you're visual, as I am, you like to see the big picture -- where you fit in.  You like to know the rules (of course, being an INTJ and a choleric, I prefer to rewrite them as soon as possible.)  And you can't stand anything that distracts you from those aims.

I've got a lot to do this year.  I don't have time for clutter.