At the start of every year, I have my students write a math autobiography: tell me about yourself, tell me about good/bad experiences with math, tell me about good/bad ... effective/ineffective experiences in any previous class (no teacher names), etc. I like this because I learn something about the kids, and I learn about what their take is on how they learn best.
This year I learned some interesting things. I have an 11th grader who has moved around various countries and has been homeschooled up to this year and is a wee bit apprehensive about public schools. I have a girl originally from Jamaica who is tired of being stereotyped and has some strong words to say about how people treat each other. I have a creative child who put her autobiography in the form of a fairy tale. I have a student who wants to enter the air force and got his first ride in an aerobatic (or jet??) plane this summer. I have a few students who are brand new to our school. I have (already!) a pregnant student. And as usual, I have funny, fun, studious, laid back, intense, happy, apprehensive, unique students.