I co-facilitate an extended orientation for first year international graduate students and it has provided me with excellent practice in examining my cultural biases. Though the students in my class are peers, I am the American. I know the answers to the hidden curriculum of this wacky system of the U.S. My life experiences are also pieces of institutional knowledge that inform how I speak, act, think.
It's easy to forget that some things only make sense given contextual knowledge. My co-facilitator tried likening a conversation between two students to 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. That is an incredibly obscure reference that even Americans might miss. How many people have access to who Kevin Bacon is (despite his amazing performance in The Air Up There)?
It's easy to make assumptions about what students know/don't know.