For some reason, several of my first year students seemed to have forgotten the part of the syllabus we went over the first day of class that said that assignments were due on the day indicated at the beginning of class. I know this because I've received journals a day or two late, just stuck into the pile.
Did their high school teachers not talk about due dates, or were they just suggestions?
So I mentioned it today in class, trying to be gentle, and certainly not pointing out that Joe and Mary messed up, and OMG how could you!
And then a student in one of my earlier lit classes was using a really old looking edition with no notes or glossing or line numbers, so I mentioned that I found glossing really helpful for such texts, and did she want to borrow an extra copy of the text I had in my office?
And later, I got an email apologizing profusely about the text. The email made me think that she thought I was mad or upset that she didn't have a glossed text, but I was more thinking of how frustrating it is to try to read earlier lit without glossing sometimes, especially when you're fairly new to the stuff.
It's a hard balance for me, trying to point out problems, even small, really inoffensive things, without making students feel like it's something big. Partly, I think, it's because I'm very coastal, far more Woody Allen than Garrison Keillor, and my students feel way more comfortable laughing about Norwegian bachelor farmers than about angst and despair. So my style freaks them out from the get go. (It took me about 3 years to sort of get the Prairie Home Companion thing. Sort of being the operative term here.)
Added to that, I'm just not maternal. I'm no one's idea of a mothering type, and students really often want a mothering relationship with female faculty. (K8grrl has blogged about this recently, with added complications of being fairly youthful still.)
And no one wants to be told they made a mistake, even if it's not a huge thing.
I want them to take seriously my admonitions about not turning in work late as if it's no big deal (at least have the courtesy to talk to the instructor!) without sounding really harsh, but I have difficulty striking that balance. And so forth.
More despair, and it's only the second week of classes!