I'm relatively new to teaching (I was just hired as a tenure-track English professor at a local community college and have been teaching for just about 2 years). I recently received an email from a male student (he is in his mid-50's), and he addressed me as follows:
A great morning to you my dear lass,
Now, the email was complimentary. He thanked me for teaching a great course and said that he learned a lot in my class (all of these things are nice to hear). He has, at times, been difficult to teach (he questions academic conventions regarding basic essay structure, such as not beginning or ending a body paragraph with a quote), but he eventually concedes and makes the necessary adjustments (I am teaching a developmental writing course).
I was just a little surprised by his choice of greeting. I am not overly familiar with my students, and I am not young (I am a divorced, 40-year-old woman). I like this student, and I am unsure of how to address this (or if I even should...) situation without causing offense. I feel certain he didn't mean to sound condescending and sexist, but... I also feel certain that if I was a 40-year-old male professor he would not have began his email with "A great morning to you my dear lad."
I would really appreciate any advice concerning how to address this issue. Additionally, I am teaching a combo course, and we just completed the first half, so he will continue to be my student for another 8 weeks.