For me, giving feedback to a student who has something to say, no matter how bad the mechanics are, is much easier than giving feedback to a student who has nothing whatsoever to say but spells it correctly. My strategy is to dodge the issue of providing feedback on the writing until I can determine why the student writes empty essays
— which is my semi-polite term for writing that sounds like it was written by a moron having a really bad day. In most cases, establishing a relationship with the student provides all the information I need to provide feedback on the student's writing tactfully and supportively.
Empty essay example
Here's a sample of the kind of shallow writing I mean:
There are a lot of places where I can go to be alone and...