Student first chapters and outlines -- a great way to get a feel for what my students are going to be working on this year, though sometimes one will change horses midway through, but that's okay.
Trouble is that most of them have been together for a year already and know each other's novels intimately, whereas this is the first time I've seen them. It's more work for me, of course, but well worth the time and is always interesting to see where they're coming from. I've also had them talking about their novels and filling out a questionnaire, so hopefully I'll have a good handle for where they're coming from.
One of the worries that someone will always have is what if what they're writing isn't my thing. I'm a genre fiction writer, which their first year teacher wasn't, so the genre writers are always happy to discover that. (And it's a great balance to have.) But even so, there can be that persistent niggle. And really it doesn't matter. There will always be books that aren't quite my thing, but it doesn't mean I can't look at them objectively to see whether they're working, how well executed they are. I'm more interested in the craft than whether something rings my particular bells.
One of my pet peeves in workshopping is the workshopper who says they can't comment on something because it's not their genre. What a cop out. I was in a workshop once where someone had written a magic realism story and every workshopper except me and the workshop leader used that line. It was hardly fair to the poor writer who had made detailed comments on everyone else's stories even though they weren't in the same genre as what she was writing. Anyone can comment on craft, and, really, one of the great pleasures of teaching writing is the variety of projects we get to work with, so students shouldn't worry about such things but should rejoice in the fact that they're writing something only they can write.