I'm discovering that when I teach I have a tendency to assume that my students learn the same way I do. I assume that they are capable and motivated to learn on their own. That my job is mostly just to facilitate the process, to provide them with a chance to practice speaking and to answer questions as someone who simply has more information than they do. Not that they need me to tell them how to learn, to give them material to practise on their own. I tend to overestimate rather than underestimate their ablities. I tend to assume that grammatical explanations help rather than confuse. Because this is how I myself learn best. By being challenged. By understanding the rules behind the things we say. This is a very analytical approach, and I know that some people learn best intuitively, through doing not by thinking. But I'm not so good about applying this in my own teaching.
I recently started working with a student from a very different background - an immigrant from Mexico - and I'm discovering just how much of a difference that makes. Sometimes I feel like we speak different languages, and not just because I know no Spanish. We come from different worlds. I need to learn to be flexible, to teach for other learning styles.