As with most things, there is no 'one way' to play drums and no 'one size fits all' way of teaching drums. Below are a few of my thoughts and observations from watching people learn.
Making a noise (or preferably, a beat!)
The first thing I usually do is ask people to have a hit and show me anything that they can play. Some people are happy to play a few beats that they remember learning in school, others say they don't know anything and are too shy to hit the drums at all.
If people do play something, it is a good opportunity to observe their natural hitting style, technique, sound, rhythmic knowledge, and coordination.
If the student doesn't have any ideas, and we are luckily enough to have more than one drum kit in the teaching space, I like to just start playing a few simple ideas and getting them to copy. Then low and behold within a few minutes, they are up and playing a beat. Playing drums is not hard.
What does the student want to achieve? Sometimes they know, often they don't -in which case the teacher has to decide a direction for lessons.
Talk about favourite songs, bands, or drummers in the hope of unearthing a direction that is going to bring the student satisfaction.
If they don't have any ideas, the default direction for me is usually rock/pop drumming which is the way the 'Essential Beats and Songs' drum course is structured. It attempts to covers everything that is required for pop/rock drumming, increasing the students skill base and control as it progresses.