One thing I have done this term within tutor group is to get each person in our group to share something with the rest of the group, be it bizarre skill or a hobby they enjoy. I've kept to the theme of sharing 'random' things, as many students within our tutor group are introverts and not very confident in sharing things about themselves.
I started us off by sharing something that is important to me - I'm a bit of a hippy and into yoga & meditation, and wanted to share something that might be able to help with the stress bunnies that are my students, leading up to exam/internal assessment week (that starts this week!).
So, I showed them this video: 'One Moment meditation', and then we had a wee chat about how it can help to de-stress and chill out a little ;) (and a pretty amazing thing was that a week later one of my rather straight-laced students told me she had used the meditation technique when faced with a stressy situation - and it had helped, so that was pretty cool :) )
Another thing I found last year (I won't call it a strategy because I never intended it as one, it was simply something that happened organically through conversation) - was that when I shared something about myself to my classes, this greatly strengthened the relationship we had.
My example is that we built a house last year, which was (as you would expect!) a long drawn-out and sometimes stressful process. Each weekend we would visit the construction site, and photograph how the progress was going, and in the following week, I would share a photo with a couple of my senior classes. It became a way for students to connect with my story, offer their own experiences, and I found I was always being asked how my house was going, even in the corridor in passing. My students were genuinely interested too, and were excited for me when we finally moved in! This year, I have inherited about 1/2 my students again in one particular class, and at the start of the year it was one of the first conversations to come up.
|...to this in about 9 months.|
So while this isn't specifically about getting to know your learners, it is about 'building' ;) relationships with them - and for me, it is through things like this that I do get to know them really well. I've found if I'm willing to open up and share aspects of my life (not everything obviously!), then they tend to open up and help build strong, positive learning relationships.